Some things the LDS Church has historically taught are true include the following: The great flood at the time of Noah was a literal event covering the entire earth with water, the earth's sun "borrows its light from Kolob" and the earth is only 7000 years old. The modern-day LDS Church rarely gives definitive statements on many scientific topics that the earlier prophets previously taught as gospel, but some are clearly still taught as literal events today such as the Great Flood and the Tower of Babel, which are also supported by LDS scripture.
Although many statements abound from LDS authors embracing the search for truth and knowledge no matter the source, when there is a conflict between the LDS position and science, there seems to be two ways of dealing with it: 1) Faith overrides science as this Thomas S. Monson quote shows:
My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.
or 2) The LDS accept all "truth," and when science does not match LDS perceptions of truth, science is wrong because it changes, but it will eventually find the truth as revealed by God:
...No true scientist will say that we have final, exact answers through scientific research; it is an ongoing, learning process. The Articles of Faith teach us that the Lord "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (A of F 1:9).
Some say that God gives to His children as needed, and that it is not important that He gives all of the answers to man because they must work out their own understanding by study and by faith. However, the issue isn't so much that God doesn't reveal all truth, but that so many early church leaders taught (and still teach) as truth things that are wrong. For a people so interested in truth, and a church that is run by prophets that receive God's word, how could that happen?
“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft. ..."Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2011), 261–70 Chapter 22: "Gaining Knowledge of Eternal Truths."Link is here.
“Mormonism,” so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods.President Brigham Young,
"During Noah's time the earth was completely covered with water. This was the baptism of the earth and symbolized a cleansing (1 Pet. 3:20–21)."'Flood at Noah's Time,' The Guide to the Scriptures. Link is here.
"Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob...This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob."Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2, Figure #5 explanation. Link is here.
"6 Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?"D&C 77:6 Link is here.
"Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: “I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God's word. I wasn't with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it."President Thomas S. Monson, "The Lighthouse of the Lord: A Message to the Youth of the Church," New Era, Feb. 2001.Link is here.
Apparent conflicts arise when the theories of science—which serve as a scaffolding erected to try to understand relationships among observed facts—are mistaken for the experimentally verified facts.R. Hill III, "solutions from the scriptures," general conference, april 1988. Link is here.
What most LDS have been taught in church and believe as truth
The leaders of the church, as well as gospel doctrine teachers the world over, have taught that many Biblical events and beliefs that people have had for centuries are indeed true, historical events. Joseph Smith and other prophets have made statements that indicated that certain Biblical events were indeed historical and not merely parables. Many of these Biblical traditions were believed as literal events by most of the general population in the 1800s as well. These include:
Significant details & problems which some Latter-day Saints may not have thought about
Many of the things which were commonly believed in the 1800s and even in the early part of the 1900s, by both LDS and non LDS people, are now being thought of as fables by many people. Of course, there are still many people that believe in the literal interpretation of these events. However, more people are questioning their historical accuracy due to scientific reasoning, testing, and discovery.
If some of the events taught as unquestionably true, literal, historical events by the LDS prophets and the Church in general can be shown to be much more likely to be fables or parables, then this presents a problem for those that claim with authority that they are literally true, historical events. In addition to the claims and teachings of the leaders of the Church, many LDS-specific scriptures verify that many of these things are literal events. If scriptures such as the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham, which were translated accurately in the 1800s, show that events they reference as true events never really happened, then this creates a serious problem in establishing the credibility of those LDS scriptures.
The LDS church teaches that the flood of Noah was a literal global and worldwide event, and that the flood was the Earth's baptism.
Some believing, educated saints realize that the global flood story of Noah isn't likely literally true. They say that the early LDS prophets may have taught that but the current ones don't so it's perfectly fine to not believe in the story of Noah as a global flood. To that we present the following as evidence that the modern prophets and apostles still teach the story of Noah as a literal story involving a global flood (emphasis added):
January 1998 Ensign
Still other people accept parts of the Flood story, acknowledging that there may have been a local, charismatic preacher, such as Noah, and a localized flood that covered only a specific area of the world, such as the region of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers or perhaps even the whole of Mesopotamia. Yet these people do not believe in a worldwide or global flood. Both of these groups—those who totally deny the historicity of Noah and the Flood and those who accept parts of the story—are persuaded in their disbelief by the way they interpret modern science. They rely upon geological considerations and theories that postulate it would be impossible for a flood to cover earth's highest mountains, that the geologic evidence (primarily in the fields of stratigraphy and sedimentation) does not indicate a worldwide flood occurred any time during the earth's existence.
There is a third group of people—those who accept the literal message of the Bible regarding Noah, the ark, and the Deluge. Latter-day Saints belong to this group. In spite of the world's arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth. We are assured that these events actually occurred by the multiple testimonies of God's prophets.
January 1998 Ensign,
The Flood and the Tower of Babel, Donald W. Parry
Editor comment: How much clearer can you get? The Ensign article makes it extremely clear what the LDS position is on Noah and the Flood. [The Ensign articles are all approved by the First Presidency and almost considered scripture.]
"There was the great Flood, when waters covered the earth and when, as Peter says, only 'eight souls were saved'" - Gordon B. Hinckley, If We Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear, 175th Semi-Annual General Priesthood Meeting Link is here.
Thus, modern revelation teaches that God indeed suffered great sorrow over the Flood, which served as the baptism of the earth.
—Joseph B. Romney, “Noah, The Great Preacher of Righteousness,” Ensign, Feb 1998
"In the days of Noah the Lord sent a universal flood which completely immersed the whole earth and destroyed all flesh except that preserved on the ark. (Gen. 6; 7; 8; 9; Moses 7:38-45; 8; Ether 13.2.) "Noah was born to save seed of everything, when the earth was washed of its wickedness by the flood." (Teachings, p. 12) This flood was the baptism of the earth; before it occurred the land was all in one place, a condition that will again prevail during the millennial era. (D&C 133:23-24)". (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, p. 289)
"The Garden of Eden was in Missouri. Noah was taken to the Old World by the Flood. This teaching was given by Joseph Smith and is still accepted as true doctrine. Given this teaching, Mormons have to accept the flood as a global phenomenon." (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce McConkie, "Adam-Ondi-Ahman" p. 19-20)
FLOOD WAS BAPTISM OF EARTH. Now a word as to the reason for the flood. It was the baptism of the earth, and that had to be by immersion. If the water did not cover the entire earth, then it was not baptized, for the baptism of the Lord is not pouring or sprinkling. (Smith, Joseph Fielding, Jr., Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: BookCraft, 1955), Vol.2, p.320)
THE GREAT FLOOD. The Old Testament records a flood that was just over fifteen cubits (sometimes assumed to be about twenty-six feet) deep and covered the entire landscape: "And all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered" (Gen. 7:19). Scientifically this account leaves many questions unanswered, especially how a measurable depth could cover mountains. Elder John A. Widtsoe, writing in 1943, offered this perspective: The fact remains that the exact nature of the flood is not known. We set up assumptions, based upon our best knowledge, but can go no further. We should remember that when inspired writers deal with historical incidents they relate that which they have seen or that which may have been told them, unless indeed the past is opened to them by revelation. The details in the story of the flood are undoubtedly drawn from the experiences of the writer. Under a downpour of rain, likened to the opening of the heavens, a destructive torrent twenty-six feet deep or deeper would easily be formed. The writer of Genesis made a faithful report of the facts known to him concerning the flood. In other localities the depth of the water might have been more or less. In fact, the details of the flood are not known to us [Widtsoe, p. 127].
—Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Earth"
These people were so wicked that they were no longer allowed to pollute the earth by their presence on it or to bring innocent spirits into its decadent environment. The Lord decreed that all living things would be destroyed by flood, with the exception of a faithful few who would be spared so that God could begin anew his creative work and reestablish his covenant among men.
—Kent P. Jackson, “An Age of Contrasts: From Adam to Abraham,” Ensign, Feb 1986, 28
The worldwide flood of Noah's time has been accepted as a benchmark historical event by Jews and Christians for thousands of years...the worldwide flood of Noah's time, so upsetting to a restricted secular view, fits easily into place. It is the earth's baptism.
—F. Kent Nielsen, “The Gospel and the Scientific View: How Earth Came to Be,” Ensign, Sep 1980, 67
Is not today much like Noah's day when the population of the earth was wiped out in the flood and but eight righteous souls were spared? Some doubt that there was a flood, but by modern revelation we know that it did take place. By modern revelation we know that for more than a century, Noah pleaded with the people to repent, but in their willful stubbornness they would not listen.
—Mark E. Petersen, “Follow the Prophets,” Ensign, Nov 1981, 64
The Lord further indicated that all flesh was corrupt in those days, and so he brought forth the flood and destroyed all flesh except Noah and his family. Therefore, we are all descendants of righteous Noah. But the family concept is under very serious attack today all over the world.
—Hartman Rector Jr., “Turning the Hearts,” Ensign, May 1981, 73
Two generations later the Lord was so pained by that generation “without affection” (Moses 7:33) that he opened the windows of heaven and cleansed the entire earth with water. Thus, the “everlasting decree” (Ether 2:10) was first taught that he who will not obey the Lord in righteousness will be swept from his sacred land. The lesson would be tragically retaught in dispensations yet to come.
—Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Promised Land,” Ensign, Jun 1976, 23
From the scriptures we can identify some of these chosen individuals, starting with Michael who was referred to as the Archangel, one of high rank in the spirit world. He was chosen to be Adam, the first man, to stand forever under the Father and the Son at the head of the human family. Others of the chosen were Seth, the most faithful of Adam's sons after the death of the righteous Abel, and Enoch, through whose lineage the Lord promised would come Noah and the Messiah, and that his posterity should remain while the earth should stand. Another one was Noah, who was chosen to be the second father of the human race here on earth, after the flood. Another was Shem, the chosen son of Noah; and also Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
—William H. Bennett, “Covenants and Blessings,” Ensign, Nov 1975, 45
The history of the peopling of the earth is really a history of the scattering of the descendants of Noah, who is sometimes referred to as the “second father of mankind.” This general scattering began soon after the Flood when the sons of Noah and their children began to spread forth “in their lands, … after their nations” (see Gen. 10:5, 20, 31)
—Lane Johnson, “Who and Where Are the Lamanites?,” Ensign, Dec 1975, 15
Some people talk very philosophically about tidal waves coming along. But the question is—How could you get a tidal wave out of the Pacific ocean, say, to cover the Sierra Nevadas? But the Bible does not tell us it was a tidal wave. It simply tells us that "all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upwards did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered." That is, the earth was immersed. It was a period of baptism.
—John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 26:74-75.
Another great change happened nearly two thousand years after the earth was made. It was baptized by water. A great flow of water come, the great deep was broken up, the windows of heaven were opened from on high, and the waters prevailed upon the face of the earth, sweeping away all wickedness and transgression-a similitude of baptism for the remission of sins. God requires the children of men to be baptized. What for? For the remission of sins. So he required our globe to be baptized by a flow of waters, and all of its sins were washed away, not one sin remaining.
—Orson Pratt, (August 1, 1880) Journal of Discourses 21:323.
By and by we find the people departing from the principles of truth, from the laws of the Gospel, repudiating the fear of God, grieving his Holy Spirit and incurring his displeasure. Then a flood came and the inhabitants of the world, with the exception of a very few, were swept from it, after the Gospel had been preached to all who then lived and all had had an opportunity to believe in and obey it.
—John Taylor, "DESTRUCTION OF THE WICKED BY THE FLOOD, etc.," Journal of Discourses 17:205.
This earth, in its present condition and situation, is not a fit habitation for the sanctified; but it abides the law of its creation, has been baptized with water, will be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, and by-and-by will be prepared for the faithful to dwell upon.
—Brigham Young, (June 12, 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:83.
References: Link is here.
Many prophets from two different continents and different eras have identified Noah as a historical, not a mythical, character. These include Enoch (see Moses 7:42-43), Abraham (see Abr. 1:19-24), Amulek (see Alma 10:22), Moroni (see Ether 6:7), Matthew (see JS-M 1:41-42), Peter (see 2 Pet. 2:5), Joseph Smith (see D&C 84:14-15; D&C 133:54), and Joseph F. Smith (see D&C 138:9, 41). The Lord Jesus Christ himself spoke to the Nephites of the "waters of Noah" (3 Ne. 22:9). Recent latter-day prophets and apostles have similarly spoken of Noah. For example, Elder Howard W. Hunter, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, asked, "Because modernists now declare the story of the flood is unreasonable and impossible, should we disbelieve the account of Noah and the flood as related in the Old Testament?"
The Book of Ether mentions 'and that after the waters had receded from off the face of the land it became a choice land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof'. (see Ether 13:2).
Alma 10:22 Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword.
The Book of Abraham (Abr. 1:19-24) teaches the land of Egypt was discovered by the daughter in law of Noah after the flood, that Egypt was under water (implying it was the global flood) when she found it.
The most voluminous scriptural witness to Noah and the Flood is recorded in the writings of Moses, who dedicated a total of 57 verses in the King James Version to the account (Gen. 6:9-8:19). It is instructive to note that some of Noah's actual words are preserved in the Book of Moses, which introduces them with "And it came to pass that Noah continued his preaching unto the people, saying"-followed by his words: "Hearken, and give heed unto my words; Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost, that ye may have all things made manifest; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you" (Moses 8:23-24). This text is significant in that it confirms that Noah, like his predecessors, understood the gospel covenant, including the baptismal ordinance and Jesus Christ's role as Savior.
Moses may have received his information about Noah through direct revelation, or perhaps he used ancient records that were written by one of the eyewitnesses to the Flood, such as Noah himself or one of his sons. Such records, presuming they once existed, are now lost to the world. In the book of Genesis, Moses clearly states that a flood occurred, and the terminology definitely refers to a worldwide flood, as opposed to a localized flood. The Joseph Smith Translation backs up the Genesis account, modifying the wording only slightly.
Said the Lord, "I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die" (Gen. 6:17; emphasis added in this and other scriptures in this article). The phrases "all flesh . from under heaven" and "every thing that is in the earth" indicate a worldwide destruction of all creatures that lived on land. Note that the Inspired Version, translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, changes "in the earth" to "on the earth" (JST, Gen. 8:22).
Genesis 7:19-20 [Gen. 7:19-20] states, "All the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered . ; and the mountains were covered." These verses explicitly state that all of earth's high mountains ("hills" should read "mountains" here; Hebrew harim) were covered by the waters. Lest one believe that the statement "under the whole heaven" is figurative and can be read or interpreted in different ways, a scriptural search through the entire Old Testament reveals that the phrase is used elsewhere only in a universal sense, as it is here; the phrase does not refer to a geographically restricted area (see Deut. 2:25; Deut. 4:19; Job 28:24; Job 37:3; Dan. 9:12). For instance, Job 28:24 also uses the phrase when referring to God's omniscience, which is certainly not restricted to a specific geographical region on the earth.
Genesis 7:21 [Gen. 7:21] states, "All flesh died that moved upon the earth, . every creeping thing . every man." The phrase "all flesh" refers to all land animals, creeping things, and fowls and all of humanity, with the exception of those in the ark (see Gen. 7:23). The entry every in the Oxford American Dictionary reads: "each single one, without exception." Moses is clearly trying to let us understand that the Flood was universal.
Verse 22 [Gen. 7:22] states, "All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died." Again the term "all" expresses a sum total. The term "dry land" should be read literally here, having reference to the land masses of our planet.
Verse 23 [Gen. 7:23] states, "Every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl." Moses' list of those destroyed by the Flood is inclusive; only Noah "remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark."
Genesis 8:5 [Gen. 8:5] states, "In the tenth month . were the tops of the mountains seen." After the flood, the "waters decreased" until Noah and his group were able to once again see mountaintops.
Taken altogether, these statements should convince every believer in the Bible that the great deluge was a worldwide event, 4 not a localized flood that filled only the Mesopotamian or some other region.
[And then further down Parry states]
...4. Latter-day prophets teach that the Flood or the total immersion of the earth in water represents the earth's required baptism. Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: "Latter-day Saints look upon the earth as a living organism, one which is gloriously filling 'the measure of its creation.' They look upon the flood as a baptism of the earth, symbolizing a cleansing of the impurities of the past, and the beginning of a new life. This has been repeatedly taught by the leaders of the Church. The deluge was an immersion of the earth in water." He writes that the removal of earth's wicked inhabitants in the Flood represents that which occurs in our own baptism for the remission of sins.
13. Evidences and Reconciliations (1960), 127-28; see also Doctrines of Salvation, 2:320-21."
2014 - Still taught as literal: Ensign, February 2014
Topics section of LDS.org: As of 4/24/14, in the topical guide of the LDS.org website, there is a topic called Noah. The discussion confirms that Noah was real and it was a global flood:
Just as the earth was immersed in water, so we must be baptized by water and by the Spirit before we can enter the celestial kingdom.
Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives were the only people on the whole earth saved from the flood.
Additionally, LDS believe that Noah was the Arch Angel Gabriel as taught by the early prophets.
While speaking in 1839 to members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and some Seventies prior to their leaving for missionary service, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: "Noah, who is Gabriel, stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in his day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven." 1
(Joseph B. Romney, "Noah, The Great Preacher of Righteousness," Ensign, Feb. 1998, 22)
Even the LDS apologists acknowledge that the Church clearly teaches that story of Noah was a real event and it was a global flood:
Without a doubt, the flood is always treated as global event as it is taught by Church leaders. This is not likely to ever change, since it is based directly upon a straightforward reading of the scriptures. Ref: Link is here.
The biblical account of Noah states that God informed Noah that he intended to flood the earth to destroy the wicked people. God instructed Noah, who was some 600 years old at the time, to build a massive ark with dimensions that equate to about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet deep. Noah and his family took two of each unclean creature and seven of every clean creature and all the food and fresh water that would be needed on board the ark for over six months. After the flood waters subsided, Noah and his family released the animals and they, along with Noah's family of eight, repopulated the earth. (Genesis chapters 6-9.)
The following is a brief summary of problems with the Global Flood:
A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE PROBLEMS WITH THE FLOOD:
Scientists say that it would take a supertanker just to carry every species of insect. Taking every species of animal would require fleets of arks. True believers sometimes say that Noah took every 'kind' of animal, not species. Two obvious problems with this theory:
Reference: Link is here. (archived copy)
Even if that basic implausibility is accepted, there are still many, many problems associated with a global flood happening in Noah's time.
Excerpts from: Link is here. by Mark Isaak.
Wood is simply not strong enough to prevent separation between the joints, especially in the heavy seas that the Ark would have encountered. The longest wooden ships in modern seas are about 300 feet, and these require reinforcing with iron straps and leak so badly they must be constantly pumped. The ark was 450 feet long [ Gen. 6:15]. Could an ark that size be made seaworthy? [Link is here.]
If the animals traveled from other parts of the world, many of them would have faced extreme difficulties.
Some, like sloths and penguins, can't travel over land very well at all.
Some, like koalas and many insects, require a special diet. How did they bring it along?
Some cave-dwelling arthropods can't survive in less than 100% relative humidity.
Some, like dodos, must have lived on islands. If they didn't, they would have been easy prey for other animals. When mainland species like rats or pigs are introduced to islands, they drive many indigenous species to extinction. Those species would not have been able to survive such competition if they lived where mainland species could get at them before the Flood.
Getting all the animals aboard the Ark presents logistical problems which, while not impossible, are highly impractical. Noah had only seven days to load the Ark ( Gen. 7:4-10). If only 15764 animals were aboard the Ark (see section 3), one animal must have been loaded every 38 seconds, without letup. Since there were likely more animals to load, the time pressures would have been even worse.
According to the Bible, Noah took samples of all animals alive at the time of the Flood. If, as creationists claim, all fossil-bearing strata were deposited by the Flood, then all the animals which became fossils were alive then. Therefore all extinct land animals had representatives aboard the ark.
It is also worth pointing out that the number of extinct species is undoubtedly greater than the number of known extinct species. New genera of dinosaurs have been discovered at a nearly constant rate for more than a century, and there's no indication that the rate of discovery will fall off in the near future.
An ark of the size specified in the Bible would not be large enough to carry a cargo of animals and food sufficient to repopulate the earth, especially if animals that are now extinct were required to be aboard.
Many animals, especially insects, require special diets. Koalas, for example, require eucalyptus leaves, and silkworms eat nothing but mulberry leaves. For thousands of plant species (perhaps even most plants), there is at least one animal that eats only that one kind of plant. How did Noah gather all those plants aboard, and where did he put them?
Other animals are strict carnivores, and some of those specialize on certain kinds of foods, such as small mammals, insects, fish, or aquatic invertebrates. How did Noah determine and provide for all those special diets?
Many animals require their food to be fresh. Many snakes, for example, will eat only live foods (or at least warm and moving). Parasitoid wasps only attack living prey. Most spiders locate their prey by the vibrations it produces. [Foelix, 1996] Most herbivorous insects require fresh food. Aphids, in fact, are physically incapable of sucking from wilted leaves. How did Noah keep all these food supplies fresh?
Food spoilage is a major concern on long voyages; it was especially thus before the inventions of canning and refrigeration. The large quantities of food aboard would have invited infestations of any of hundreds of stored product pests (especially since all of those pests would have been aboard), and the humidity one would expect aboard the Ark would have provided an ideal environment for molds. How did Noah keep pests from consuming most of the food?
The ark would need to be well ventilated to disperse the heat, humidity, and waste products (including methane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia) from the many thousands of animals which were crowded aboard. Woodmorappe (pp. 37-42) interprets Genesis 6:16 to mean there was an 18-inch opening all around the top, and says that this, with slight breezes, would have been enough to provide adequate ventilation. However, the ark was divided into separate rooms and decks (Gen. 6:14,16). How was fresh air circulated throughout the structure?
The ungulates alone would have produced tons of manure a day. The waste on the lowest deck at least (and possibly the middle deck) could not simply be pushed overboard, since the deck was below the water line; the waste would have to be carried up a deck or two. Vermicomposting could reduce the rate of waste accumulation, but it requires maintenance of its own. How did such a small crew dispose of so much waste?
The animals aboard the ark would have been in very poor shape unless they got regular exercise. (Imagine if you had to stay in an area the size of a closet for a year.) How were several thousand diverse kinds of animals exercised regularly?
For example, why weren't the Sierra Nevadas eroded as much as the Appalachians during the Flood?
Ice cores from Greenland have been dated back more than [800,000 years] (Link is here.) by counting annual layers. [Johnsen et al, 1992; Alley et al, 1993] A worldwide flood would be expected to leave a layer of sediments, noticeable changes in salinity and oxygen isotope ratios, fractures from buoyancy and thermal stresses, a hiatus in trapped air bubbles, and probably other evidence. Why doesn't such evidence show up?
Such a mass of water as the Flood would have provided sufficient buoyancy to float the [Antarctic and Greenland] ice caps off their beds and break them up. They wouldn't regrow quickly. In fact, the Greenland ice cap would not regrow under modern (last 10 ky) climatic conditions.
A year long flood should be recognizable in sea bottom cores by (1) an uncharacteristic amount of terrestrial detritus, (2) different grain size distributions in the sediment, (3) a shift in oxygen isotope ratios (rain has a different isotopic composition from seawater), (4) a massive extinction, and (n) other characters. Why do none of these show up?
Ecological zonation, hydrodynamic sorting, and differential escape fail to explain:
Deep in the geologic column there are formations which could have originated only on the surface, such as:
How could these have appeared in the midst of a catastrophic flood?
These are where one set of layers of sediments have been extensively modified (e.g., tilted) and eroded before a second set of layers were deposited on top. They thus seem to require at least two periods of deposition (more, where there is more than one unconformity) with long periods of time in between to account for the deformation, erosion, and weathering observed.
Many very tall mountains are composed of sedimentary rocks. (The summit of Everest is composed of deep-marine limestone, with fossils of ocean-bottom dwelling crinoids [Gansser, 1964].) If these were formed during the Flood, how did they reach their present height, and when were the valleys between them eroded away? Keep in mind that many valleys were clearly carved by glacial erosion, which is a slow process.
Some of these are intruded into older sediments and have younger sediments on their eroded top surfaces. It takes a long time for magma to cool into granite, nor does granite erode very quickly. [For example, see Donohoe & Grantham, 1989, for locations of contact between the South Mountain Batholith and the Meugma Group of sediments, as well as some angular unconformities.]
One formation in New Jersey is six kilometers thick. If we grant 400 days for this to settle, and ignore possible compaction since the Flood, we still have 15 meters of sediment settling per day. And yet despite this, the chemical properties of the rock are neatly layered, with great changes (e.g.) in percent carbonate occurring within a few centimeters in the vertical direction. How does such a neat sorting process occur in the violent context of a universal flood dropping 15 meters of sediment per day? How can you explain a thin layer of high carbonate sediment being deposited over an area of ten thousand square kilometers for some thirty minutes, followed by thirty minutes of low carbonate deposition, etc.? [Zimmer, 1992]
The Green River formation in Wyoming contains 20,000,000 annual layers, or varves, identical to those being laid down today in certain lakes. The sediments are so fine that each layer would have required over a month to settle.
Stratigraphic sections showing a dozen or more mature forests layered atop each other--all with upright trunks, in-place roots, and well-developed soil--appear in many locations. One example, the Joggins section along the Bay of Fundy, shows a continuous section 2750 meters thick (along a 48-km sea cliff) with multiple in-place forests, some separated by hundreds of feet of strata, some even showing evidence of forest fires. [Ferguson, 1988. For other examples, see Dawson, 1868; Cristie & McMillan, 1991; Gastaldo, 1990; Yuretich, 1994.] Creationists point to logs sinking in a lake below Mt. St. Helens as an example of how a flood can deposit vertical trunks, but deposition by flood fails to explain the roots, the soil, the layering, and other features found in such places.
If the geologic record was deposited in a year, then the events it records must also have occurred within a year. Some of these events release significant amounts of heat.
5.6 x 1026 joules is enough to heat the oceans to boiling. 3.7 x 1027 joules will vaporize them completely. Since steam and air have a lower heat capacity than water, the steam released will quickly raise the temperature of the atmosphere over 1000 C. At these temperatures, much of the atmosphere would boil off the Earth.
Aside from losing its atmosphere, Earth can only get rid of heat by radiating it to space, and it can't radiate significantly more heat than it gets from the sun unless it is a great deal hotter than it is now. (It is very nearly at thermal equilibrium now.) If there weren't many millions of years to radiate the heat from the above processes, the earth would still be unlivably hot.
As shown in section 5, all the mechanisms proposed for causing the Flood already provide more than enough energy to vaporize it as well. These additional factors only make the heat problem worse.
Much limestone is made of the skeletons of zillions of microscopic sea animals. Some deposits are thousands of meters thick. Were all those animals alive when the Flood started? If not, how do you explain the well-ordered sequence of fossils in the deposits? Roughly 1.5 x 1015 grams of calcium carbonate are deposited on the ocean floor each year. [Poldervaart, 1955] A deposition rate ten times as high for 5000 years before the Flood would still only account for less than 0.02% of limestone deposits.
Chalk is largely made up of the bodies of plankton 700 to 1000 angstroms in diameter [Bignot, 1985]. Objects this small settle at a rate of .0000154 mm/sec. [Twenhofel, 1961] In a year of the Flood, they could have settled about half a meter.
Such layers are sometimes meters in width, interbedded with sediments containing marine fossils. This apparently occurs when a body of salt water has its fresh-water intake cut off, and then evaporates. These layers can occur more or less at random times in the geological history, and have characteristic fossils on either side. Therefore, if the fossils were themselves laid down during a catastrophic flood, there are, it seems, only two choices:
The stretched pebble conglomerate in Death Valley National Monument (Wildrose Canyon Rd., 15 mi. south of Hwy. 190), for example, contains streambed pebbles metamorphosed to quartzite and stretched to 3 or more times their original length. Plastically deformed stone is also common around salt diapirs [Jackson et al, 1990].
Standard theory is that they were laid down before Earth's atmosphere contained much oxygen. In an oxygen-rich regime, they would almost certainly be impossible.
Mineralization is the replacement of the original material with a different mineral.
How are these observations explained by a sorted deposition of remains in a single episode of global flooding?
The moon is slowly sapping the earth's rotational energy. The earth should have rotated more quickly in the distant past, meaning that a day would have been less than 24 hours, and there would have been more days per year. Corals can be dated by the number of "daily" growth layers per "annual" growth layer. Devonian corals, for example, show nearly 400 days per year. There is an exceedingly strong correlation between the "supposed age" of a wide range of fossils (corals, stromatolites, and a few others -- collected from geologic formations throughout the column and from locations all over the world) and the number of days per year that their growth pattern shows. The agreement between these clocks, and radiometric dating, and the theory of superposition is a little hard to explain away as the result of a number of unlucky coincidences in a 300-day-long flood. [Rosenberg & Runcorn, 1975; Scrutton, 1965; Wells, 1963]
Schadewald  writes:
"Scientific creationists interpret the fossils found in the earth's rocks as the remains of animals that perished in the Noachian Deluge. Ironically, they often cite the sheer number of fossils in 'fossil graveyards' as evidence for the Flood. In particular, creationists seem enamored by the Karroo Formation in Africa, which is estimated to contain the remains of 800 billion vertebrate animals (see Whitcomb and Morris, p. 160; Gish, p. 61). As pseudoscientists, creationists dare not test this major hypothesis that all of the fossilized animals died in the Flood.
"Robert E. Sloan, a paleontologist at the University of Minnesota, has studied the Karroo Formation. He asserts that the animals fossilized there range from the size of a small lizard to the size of a cow, with the average animal perhaps the size of a fox. A minute's work with a calculator shows that, if the 800 billion animals in the Karoo formation could be resurrected, there would be twenty-one of them for every acre of land on earth. Suppose we assume (conservatively, I think) that the Karroo Formation contains 1 percent of the vertebrate [land] fossils on earth. Then when the Flood began, there must have been at least 2100 living animals per acre, ranging from tiny shrews to immense dinosaurs. To a noncreationist mind, that seems a bit crowded."
A thousand kilometers' length of arctic coastal plain, according to experts in Leningrad, contains about 500,000 tons of tusks. Even assuming that the entire population was preserved, you seem to be saying that Russia had wall-to-wall mammoths before this "event."
Even if there was room physically for all the large animals which now exist only as fossils, how could they have all coexisted in a stable ecology before the Flood? Montana alone would have had to support a diversity of herbivores orders of magnitude larger than anything now observed.
There are 1.16 x 1013 metric tons of coal reserves, and at least 100 times that much unrecoverable organic matter in sediments. A typical forest, even if it covered the entire earth, would supply only 1.9 x 1013 metric tons. [Ricklefs, 1993, p. 149]
A flood would have washed over everything equally, so terrestrial organisms should be roughly as abundant as aquatic ones (or more abundant, since Creationists hypothesize greater land area before the Flood) in the fossil record. Yet shallow marine environments account for by far the most fossils.
Some require cool clear water, some need brackish water, some need ocean water, some need water even saltier. A flood would have destroyed at least some of these habitats.
Since most coral are found in shallow water, the turbidity created by the runoff from the land would effectively cut them off from the sun. The silt covering the reef after the rains were over would kill all the coral. By the way, the rates at which coral deposits calcium are well known, and some highly mature reefs (such a the great barrier) have been around for millions of years to be deposited to their observed thickness.
Many diseases can't survive in hosts other than humans. Many others can only survive in humans and in short-lived arthropod vectors. The list includes typhus, measles, smallpox, polio, gonorrhea, syphilis. For these diseases to have survived the Flood, they must all have infected one or more of the eight people aboard the Ark.
Other animals aboard the ark must have suffered from multiple diseases, too, since there are other diseases specific to other animals, and the nonspecific diseases must have been somewhere.
Host-specific diseases which don't kill their host generally can't survive long, since the host's immune system eliminates them. (This doesn't apply to diseases such as HIV and malaria which can hide from the immune system.) For example, measles can't last for more than a few weeks in a community of less than 250,000 [Keeling & Grenfell, 1997] because it needs nonresistant hosts to infect. Since the human population aboard the ark was somewhat less than 250,000, measles and many other infectious diseases would have gone extinct during the Flood.
Some diseases that can affect a wide range of species would have found conditions on the Ark ideal for a plague. Avian viruses, for example, would have spread through the many birds on the ark. Other plagues would have affected the mammals and reptiles. Even these plague pathogens, though, would have died out after all their prospective hosts were either dead or resistant.
Adult mayflies on the ark would have died in a few days, and the larvae of many mayflies require shallow fresh running water. Many other insects would face similar problems.
The Flood would have destroyed the food and shelter which most species need to survive.
How could more than a handful of the predator species on the ark have survived (both on the ark and in the months after the voyage), with only two individuals of their prey to eat? All of the predators at the top of the food pyramid require larger numbers of food animals beneath them on the pyramid, which in turn require large numbers of the animals they prey on, and so on, down to the primary producers (plants etc.) at the bottom. And if the predators survived, how did the other animals survive being preyed on? For that matter, what would the herbivores eat after the flood subsided?
Isolated populations with fewer than 20 members are usually doomed even when extraordinary measures are taken to protect them. [Simberloff, 1988]
How did koalas get from Ararat to Australia, polar bears to the Arctic, etc., when the kinds of environment they require to live doesn't exist between the two points. How did so many unique species get to remote islands?
Did the yucca and the yucca moth migrate together across the Atlantic? Were there, a few thousand years ago, unbroken giant sequoia forests between Ararat and California to allow indigenous bark and cone beetles to migrate?
Why are so many marsupials limited to Australia; why are there no wallabies in western Indonesia? Why are lemurs limited to Madagascar? The same argument applies to any number of groups of plants and animals.
Harmful recessive alleles occur in significant numbers in most species. (Humans have, on average, 3 to 4 lethal recessive alleles each.) When close relatives breed, the offspring are more likely to be homozygous for these harmful alleles, to the detriment of the offspring. Such inbreeding depression still shows up in cheetahs; they have about 1/6th the number of motile spermatozoa as domestic cats, and of those, almost 80% show morphological abnormalities. [O'Brien et al, 1987] How could more than a handful of species survive the inbreeding depression that comes with establishing a population from a single mating pair?
Biblical dates (I Kings 6:1, Gal 3:17, various generation lengths given in Genesis) place the Flood 1300 years before Solomon began the first temple. We can construct reliable chronologies for near Eastern history, particularly for Egypt, from many kinds of records from the literate cultures in the near East. These records are independent of, but supported by, dating methods such as dendrochronology and carbon-14. The building of the first temple can be dated to 950 B.C. +/- some small delta, placing the Flood around 2250 B.C. Unfortunately, the Egyptians (among others) have written records dating well back before 2250 B.C. (the Great Pyramid, for example dates to the 26th century B.C., 300 years before the Biblical date for the Flood). No sign in Egyptian inscriptions of this global flood around 2250 B.C.
Genealogies in Genesis put the Tower of Babel about 110 to 150 years after the Flood [Gen 10:25, 11:10-19]. How did the world population regrow so fast to make its construction (and the city around it) possible? Similarly, there would have been very few people around to build Stonehenge and the Pyramids, rebuild the Sumerian and Indus Valley civilizations, populate the Americas, etc.
Flood myths are fairly common worldwide, and if they came from a common source, we should expect similarities in most of them. Instead, the myths show great diversity. [Bailey, 1989, pp. 5-10; Isaak, 1997] For example, people survive on high land or trees in the myths about as often as on boats or rafts, and no other flood myth includes a covenant not to destroy all life again.
We know that other people's sacred stories change over time [Baaren, 1972] and that changes to the Genesis Flood story have occurred in later traditions [Ginzberg, 1909; Utley, 1961]. Is it not reasonable to assume that changes occurred between the story's origin and its being written down in its present form?
If your style of Biblical interpretation makes you take the Flood literally, then shouldn't you also believe in a flat and stationary earth? [Dan. 4:10-11, Matt. 4:8, 1 Chron. 16:30, Psalms 93:1, ...]
Jesus used parables; why wouldn't God do so, too?"
Excerpts from: Link is here. by Mark Isaak.
The website skeptoid takes on the challenge of Noah's Ark with a scientific viewpoint and makes a very strong case that a ship the size of Noah's could not have been made out of wood. It could not even begin to be structurally sound. The Skeptoid site compares this to large, wooden ships that have been built in history.
Chinese history is recorded reliably since at least 3000 B.C. There is no mention a worldwide flood. How can these things have happened and totally escaped detection by the Chinese? Since the flood occurred around 2345 B.C. wouldn't the Chinese have been wiped out as well? Yet, Chinese history marches on as if nothing happened. The same is true of Egypt.
Established civilizations in Egypt and China were not impacted by claims of a global flood during the time of Noah's Ark. How could this be if there really was a global flood?
Reference: Did The Biblical Flood Happen?
How did the altar at Adam-ondi-Ahman survive the flood waters and remain standing?
The Bible states that the Tower of Babel was constructed 110 to 150 years after the flood. How could the 3 fertile female human survivors of the flood (Noah's daughters-in-law) produce such a large number of descendants within 6 generations?
Editor comment: The idea of a universal flood simply does not stand up to any sort of scientific scrutiny. Setting aside the impossibilities of Noah's tale for a minute, are we really to believe that every single inhabitant of the earth (save 8 people) were all so absolutely wicked, including the children, that they all deserved to be killed? And who would want to worship the kind of God anyway that would murder all but 8 of his children on earth because they had grown too wicked? The God many of us worship is more merciful.
The following is a small excerpt on a book that is a work-in-progress by Evan Murri.
Link to Noah's Ark Essay: Noahs-Ark-Only-with-Cover (PDF)
The LDS church teaches that the Tower of Babel was a literal event, and that the Jaredites left at the time of the confounding of languages.
Babel was founded by Nimrod and was one of the oldest cities in the land of Mesopotamia, or Shinar (Gen. 10: 8-10). The Lord confounded the languages at the time the people were building the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11: 1-9; ). Babylon later became Nebuchadnezzar's capital. He built an enormous city of which the ruins still remain." Link is here.
Ether 1:33. Which Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered." (Ether 1:33)
The account of the tower of Babel, presented in Genesis 11:1-9 [Gen. 11:1-9], is another account about which many persons in the world today disbelieve. It is an account of some of Noah's descendants who set aside true temple worship and built a "pagan temple," or "counterfeit temple," 9 in the form of a great tower. Two statements hint at an attempt to build a temple: "Let us build . a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven" (4) recalls one of the purposes of temples: to serve as places where God and man can meet. "Let us make us a name" (Gen. 11:4) recalls another purpose of temples: to serve as holy places where individuals take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ. But the rebellious people under the leadership of King Nimrod lacked real priesthood keys and the authority to build temples; they lacked the divine power to make sacred covenants in the Lord's name. Other parallels have been made between the tower of Babel and the Lord's temple, both in antiquity and in our times, helping Latter-day Saints, more than any other people on earth, to understand what those in Babel were vainly attempting to duplicate. 10
The tower of Babel had a momentous impact on the events of world history, occurring not too long after the Flood and immediately before the confusion of tongues. The confusion of tongues came as a curse from the Lord because of the wicked people's attempt to build the counterfeit temple, or tower, as Moses explained (Gen. 11:5-7). Before the tower, "the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" (Gen. 11:1), but the building of the tower brought the Lord's decision to confuse the tongues so the people could "not understand one another's speech" (Gen. 11:7), preventing further defilement of the Lord's sacred ordinances. The curse, in addition, resulted in the scattering of the people "upon the face of the whole earth," a phrase given three different times for emphasis (see Gen. 11:4, 8, 9).
The Akkadian or Babylonian word babel means "gate of God." The word translates from Hebrew into English as "confusion" or "confound"-hence Moses' text, "Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth" (Gen. 11:9).
For some in the modern world, the historicity of the tower of Babel story, as with the Flood, is often discounted. One modern school of thought considers the account to be nothing more than an "artful parable" and an "old tale." But Latter-day Saints accept the story as it is presented in Genesis. Further, we have the second witness of the Book of Mormon. The title page of the Book of Mormon explains that the book of Ether "is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven." The book of Ether itself then tells of when "Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth" (Ether 1:33).
The stories of the tower of Babel and the Flood present a number of doctrinal principles and applications for Latter-day Saints today. With reference to the tower of Babel, we find the following interesting observations and parallels for our day:
Every time we hear foreign tongues (including English), we can be reminded that at one time "the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" (Gen. 11:1). The hundreds of languages on the earth today stand as a witness that there existed long ago a tower of Babel in the land of Shinar.
Yet in spite of the confusion of tongues so long ago, the gospel of Jesus Christ is reversing the effects of Babel. In the context of a temple dedication, Elder Spencer W. Kimball taught: "someone said yesterday, there never should have been a Babel. There having been a Babel, it is in reverse now. The confusion of Babel is being overcome. The Finns and the Dutch and the British, the Germans and the French and the Hollanders, the Scandinavians, Italians, Austrians all meeting under one roof! All of them heard the voice of the prophet of the Lord. Everyone of them heard his message in his own tongue. Everyone of them heard the ordinances of the gospel, the ordinances of the temple, in his own tongue. The confusion of Babel is in reverse." 12
Because of her great iniquity, ancient Babel, or Babylon, has become a long-standing scriptural symbol for "wickedness" (see D&C 133:14). Specifically, Babylon represents any people who "have strayed from mine [the Lord's] ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
"They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall" (D&C 1:15-16).
In antiquity, Babylon attempted to imitate Zion, attempting to replace the temple with its great tower, and Babylon's false gods were substitutes for the Lord God. Unfortunately, Babylon has not changed in time.
Thus, although there are many in our day who consider the accounts of the Flood and tower of Babel to be fiction, Latter-day Saints affirm their reality. We rejoice in the many truths and lessons to be learned from these two accounts, as well as from all the stories of the Old Testament."
Donald W. Parry, January 1998 Ensign, page 35
Languages are continuously evolving over long periods of time, do not diversify suddenly, and can be traced back at least 12,000 years, which pre-dates the Tower of Babel.
Divergent traditions are also revealed when we consider the bizarre editing surrounding the story of the Tower of Babel. First the peoples of the earth are described, with their various foreign languages.
"From these the coastland peoples spread. These are the sons of Japheth in their lands, each with his own language, by their families, in their nations…These are the sons of Ham, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations…These are the sons of Shem, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations." (Genesis 10:5, 20, 31)
The story of the Tower of Babel begins with the following incongruous statement: "Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there." (Genesis 11:1)
"And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language.... Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.... Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth:" (Genesis 11:6-9)
It should be obvious that we are faced with an 'either - or' situation here, in that the two accounts are mutually exclusive, and it is particularly bizarre to find such a statement about the Tower of Babel, and the single language of the earth immediately following a separate tradition describing the many languages of the earth."
Reference: Link is here.
Archived copy from - Link is here.
"The pseudoscience of young-earth creationism forces its practitioners to ignore a considerable number of sciences, including geology, biology, physics, history, anthropology and linguistics. It is the science of linguistics that I shall focus upon now, especially since I have been active in linguistic analysis for more than a decade and a half.
The story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) is a folk-tale attempting to answer why mankind speaks many different, unintelligible languages instead of a single language. As with other explanations given in the Bible, it is nonscientific, and the real explanation given by science does away with the supernatural. The reason why there are so many languages today is quite a natural reason: language evolves. The evolution of language is not the same as the evolution of biological organisms; the latter is Darwinian, whereas the former is Lamarckian, dependent upon acquisition of inherited characteristics. But aside from this significant difference, languages branching out is as proved as the speciation of living organisms. We have the prominent example of a single common language, Latin, branching out into Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian-now all mutually unintelligible languages (or nearly so).
For Latin branching out into the Romance languages, we have a historical record; for other languages, such as the Germanic languages, we can infer a common ancestor through systematic comparison of the descendant languages. Similarities in core vocabulary (such as family relations and numerals), grammatical correspondences and sound laws are instrumental in determining common descent. For example, within English, German and Swedish, we have the following correspondence of the internal vowel:
Such a comparison is striking already, but in order to determine a relationship between the languages more certainly, it is useful to go back to the earliest forms of those languages and see if the correspondence still holds true:
|Old English||Old High German||Old Norse||Gothic|
Thus we can conclude, on this basis and on many other comparisons, that English, German and Swedish were, far back in time, a single language. By this method we can also conclude that such diverse languages of today as English, Italian, Russian, Irish, Lithuanian, Persian and Hindi share a common ancestor, known as Proto-Indo-European. So it is that a single language can branch out into many different, now mutually unintelligible, languages. If so, then what need is there for the story of the Tower of Babel? Naturalistic evolution of languages is enough to account for the linguistic diversity of today, and the supernatural hypothesis ("God did it") adds nothing to our understanding.
The creationist may counter that, above the level of Indo-European, Semitic, Sino-Tibetan and other ancestral languages, we know of no common ancestor. That is correct; but that does not make the story of the Tower of Babel true. According to the Biblical story, first came the mutually unintelligible languages, and after that the speakers parted geographically. Thus the story can be falsified on two counts: first, we know that languages branch out as a result of geographical separation, not the other way round, so the burden of proof is on the Babelist to show that it was the other way round; second, had the various speakers been on the same geographical area, the result would be a pidginisation of the ancestral tongues, so that they would be markedly different than what we know about them.
A pidgin is a minimal linguistic subset used by speakers who cannot understand one another's language. For example, during World War II, when American allies invaded Italy, an Italo-English pidgin formed in which all the verbs were invariably conjugated in the infinitive, with mixed vocabulary; such that "I break" would be "io breakare" in the pidgin. That is the salient feature of pidgins: that they minimalise the grammatical complexities of the source languages in order to facilitate communication. If speakers of the various ancestral languages had been in the same area when their languages branched, they would try to communicate using pidgins, and their resultant languages would be pidginised, much as English was when invaders from Scandinavia and Normandy came (that accounts for the relative simplicity of English grammar, such as logical gender instead of grammatical gender). Instead, what we see in the ancestral languages is staggering grammatical complexity: Proto-Indo-European had at least eight noun cases, and Proto-Semitic at least three, not to mention the elaborate verb systems of both languages. Conclusion: the ancestral languages underwent no pidginisation whatever; they arose after, not before, geographical separation of their speakers. Thus the story of the Tower of Babel is proven to be historically false.
* Modern German Bein means "leg", but in the past it meant "bone."
Q. Is there any historical information as to what language was used prior to the historical incident of the Tower of Babel which is when languages diversified?
A. No, because the " Tower of Babel" incident, as such, probably did not occur in historical times. Although linguists assume that people did speak one language, the divergence would have begun in the ICE AGES before humanity had even begun to think about building cities and towers. Since the divergence happened millennia before written records existed, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to know the structure of the "first language."
According to descriptions in the Bible, the earliest era the "Tower of Babel" (a "ziggurat") could have been built would have been the Sumerian Era. But the records show that even by then Sumerian was significantly different from its neighboring languages such as Egyptian.
Based on our knowledge of how languages change, such as Latin evolving into French, Italian, Portuguese over 2 millennia, linguists are pretty sure that Egyptian and Sumerian had diverged a long time ago, many millennia before the Sumerians founded their cities."
Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Linguist, Penn State University
If we assume that the story in Gen 11:1-9 is accurately describing an actual historical event,...the narrative gives us five facts which enable us to date the event. One, the event took place in Shinar, at Babylon in particular (vv. 2, 9). Two, the event involved the building of a city with a tower (vv. 4, 5). Three, the tower was constructed of baked brick (v. 3). Four, the mortar used was asphalt (v. 3). Five, the tower was very probably a ziggurat (v. 4; see discussion below).
When we employ these five facts to date the building of the tower of Babel, we discover from archaeological data that the event occurs too late in history to be the origin of all languages on earth.
VI. Scientific Evidence for Diverse Languages Prior to the Tower of Babel
As we have seen, if Gen. 11:1-9 is accepted as historically accurate, the building of the tower of Babel can be dated approximately between 3500 and 2400 B.C. The problem which arises is that when Gen. 11:1-9 is interpreted in context, it is saying that until the building of the tower of Babel, that is, until 3500 B.C. at the earliest, all people on earth spoke the same language. It is quite evident from archaeology, however, that this is not the case."
Seely then gives archaeological data of people preceding the Tower of Babel in Thailand, China, Japan, Australia, Utah, and Mexico. The full article, including archaeology, examples of languages before Babel, and references, is here: Link is here.
Just as scientists can explain the beautiful phenomenon of the rainbow by using the laws of optics (which undoubtedly existed long before Noah's time), so linguistic scientists can show that the many languages of mankind existed long before the period to which the Tower of Babel can be assigned (Mormons believe the Jaredites made their journey to America about 2200 B.C.). No reputable linguistic scholar today accepts the Tower of Babel story as an explanation for the multiplicity of languages, for their origins, or for the date of their origins. The simple fact is that there are writings in many parts of the ancient world (China, Mesopotamia, Egypt), in widely different languages, dating from a thousand years before the supposed time of the Tower. This uncontroverted fact shows that the Babel story is only a myth. (See, for example, the article "Hamito-Semitic Languages" in The Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., Macr 8:592ff, which gives the dates of the first appearance of those languages: Akkadian, 3200 BC; Canaanite, Ugaritic, Amorite, 3000 BC.)
But it is not only the languages of all the world that supposedly originated at the Tower of Babel, but also all the peoples of the world (Gen 11:8-9)! In other words, in order to accept the story of the Tower as literal and historical, one must believe that there were no other peoples on earth at the time. Such a belief is contrary to everything that we know about the early periods of human history.
If�faithful LDS should suggest that the Tower of Babel must have been therefore much earlier than 2200 B.C., they have the problem that Ether 1:6-33 lists the generations from Jared (who left the Tower) to the last Jaredite, and there are only 28 generations. The last surviving Jaredite (see Omni 1:21) was still alive some time after the Mulekites' arrival in America about 600 B.C. To account for 28 generations between 2200 B.C. and ca. 600 B.C., the average generation would already have to be 60 years apart. To make the "confusion of tongues" a thousand years (or more!) earlier (to account for the Chinese, Egyptians and Sumerians of ca. 4000 B.C.), every Jaredite father listed in the genealogy would have had to be over 120 years old before fathering his oldest child.
Notice also that among the "Jaredite" generations listed in Ether 1 are two Hebrew names, "Aaron" (1:15-16) and "Levi" (1:20-21). One must ask how such Hebrew names appeared in America, when the Jaredites did not speak Hebrew, but rather a language which had not been confounded.
Most Christians (except for the fundamentalist / evangelical inerrantists) can accept the mythical nature of the Tower of Babel story. They can read it as allegory, an object lesson about human pride. But Mormons must (and do) accept it as literal and historical."
NOVA PBS demonstrates how language evolution can be traced back 12,000 years, which precedes the Tower of Babel, "In Search of the First Language". Link is here.]
"Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob." (Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2, Figure #5 explanation.)
According to Joseph Smith, the scrolls described a vision of Abraham, in which Abraham:
"saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God;....and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest." (Book of Abraham 3:2-3.)
The explanation of an Egyptian hypocephalus that was part of the scrolls says:
"Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. First in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. The measurement according to celestial time, which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh." (Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2, Figure #1 explanation.)
Also described is a hierarchy of heavenly bodies, earth, moon, and sun, with different revolutions and time, where the slowest-revolving body is Kolob whose day is 1000 years:
"...Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord's time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.
"... The planet which is the lesser light...is above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest, therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years.
"And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is, there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still; and thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord's time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest." (Book of Abraham 3:4-9; also Book of Abraham, Facsimile #2, explanation to Figure #2.)
"It is the process of nuclear fusion that makes the stars shine.With the discovery of quantum mechanics, scientists soon learned that the sun's source of energy is internal, and not external. The Sun shines, as we have seen, because of thermonuclear fusion. It does not get its light from any other star. And there is no star called Kolob that gives light to the stars, either. They all shine by nuclear processes, burning the nuclear fuel in their cores." p 116
"It's hard to imagine two ways of looking at the cosmos that could be more different than modern cosmology and LDS doctrine. For example, LDS doctrine regarding astronomy is permeated with references to time being measured, or "reckoned" according to a star's or planet's rate of rotation. Furthermore, this "reckoning of time" is a prime distinguisher in terms of "greatness." From the standpoint of modern cosmology, this makes no sense at all. Rates of rotation are largely arbitrary, and of little comment or concern from a fundamental point of view.There is little correlation between a planet's rate of rotation and either its size or mass.
Furthermore, for bodies like the sun, the question makes no sense at all because the sun, being a ball of plasma, rotates at different rates, depending on the distance from the center of the sun, and the latitude. (25.4 days at the equator and 36.0 days at the poles). In other words, the Sun does not have a well-defined rate of rotation. It depends. This is true for other stars as well; so talking about their rates of rotation as if this was some sort of special defining attribute makes little sense and is of little fundamental interest or value in cosmology.
Now, from Abraham, we are told that Kolob is great, rotates very slowly, and was the first star made (first creation). Yet (as we learned in the previous section) the largest (great) stars burn through their nuclear fuel very quickly, and end up as supernovae, typically leaving behind a neutron star that is unimaginable dense and rotating very fast. For Kolob to still be a star, and the first creation, and rotating very slowly, it must be a small star. Perhaps something like a brown dwarf, a star that's so small it can barely sustain any nuclear processes at all. As such, its mass and energy output would be relatively small. So it would hardly be "great" or control/govern any other bodies in the universe. In short, the idea that the first star is great, and still a significant star (not burnt out) is contradictory.
This is no trivial problem. The idea that the first star is still around, and has a very low rate of rotation, is inconsistent with what we know of stellar evolution. For that first star to be still shining, it must have been very small. Otherwise, it would have long ago burned all its nuclear fuel and would now be a black hole, or a very small neutron star that is rotating very quickly." p 110-114
"There is also an interesting and nonsensical correlation between a "day" and a "cubit.'" p 79
Farewell to Eden- Coming to terms with Mormonism and Science, Duwayne R. Anderson, 2003, First Books Library
To ponder: Why can't the Hubble Space Telescope see Kolob? Link is here.
LDS Apologist Response: The conclusion from the FAIR website "Until someone can make a convincing case that their interpretation of these things is the only reasonable one, any faith-promoting proof from Abraham's astronomy is a flimsy house of cards and any faith-destroying attack on some straw-man interpretation is laughable."
Reference: Link is here.
Critic's Response: Let's review again what exactly Joseph said:
Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob." (Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2, Figure #5 explanation.)
FAIR suggests that the "light" mentioned in the Book of Abraham may refer to the light of Christ. Does this make any sense in the context of the above paragraph? Why would the Sun borrow the 'light of Christ' from a star known as Kolob? Doesn't it make more sense that someone might believe that a star would be borrow its light, meaning the sunlight that shines from it, from another star? The primary benefit that a star provides to people is to provide light, meaning sunlight and has nothing to do with the light of Christ.
ALSO, the idea that our star got its light and power from another star was a theory known in Joseph's time. Joseph likely just believed what the scientists of his day believed and incorporated that into scripture.
Reference: An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, Grant Palmer, chapter 1.
The astronomical phrases and concepts in the Abraham texts were also common in Joseph Smith's environment. For example, in 1816 Thomas Taylor published a two-volume work called The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato. Volume 2 (pp. 140-146) contains phrases and ideas similar to the astronomical concepts in Abraham 3 and Facsimile No. 2. In these six pages, Taylor calls the planets "governors" and uses the terms "fixed stars and planets" and "grand key." Both works refer to the sun as a planet receiving its light and power from a higher sphere rather than generating its own light through hydrogen-helium fusion (cf. Fac. 2, fig. 5). LDS scholar R. Grant Athay, a research astronomer and director of the University of Colorado Observatory, has written, "At the time that the Book of Abraham was translated…the energy source of the sun was unknown," and "the concept of one star influencing another was also a common concept of the time." Grant Palmer
The LDS church teaches:
"The process by which mankind became mortal on this earth. The event is recorded in Gen. 2, 3, 4; and Moses 3, 4. The fall of Adam is one of the most important occurrences in the history of man. Before the fall, Adam and Eve had physical bodies but no blood. There was no sin, no death, and no children among any of the earthly creations. With the eating of the "forbidden fruit," Adam and Eve became mortal, sin entered, blood formed in their bones, and death became a part of life. Adam became the "first flesh" upon the earth (Moses 3:7), meaning that he and Eve were the first to become mortal. After Adam fell, the whole creation fell and became mortal. Adam's fall brought both physical and spiritual death into the world upon all mankind (Hel. 14: 16-17)."
"Latter-day revelation supports the biblical account of the Fall, showing that it was a historical event that literally occurred in the history of man."
No death before the fall:
By the Prophet Joseph, January 5, 1841:
"The world and earth are not synonymous terms. The world is the human family. This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up and remodelled and made into the one on which we live."
Richards & Little, Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel, Ch.62, p.287
Link is here.
"Adam and Eve and all forms of life, both animal and plant, were created in immortality; that is, when first placed on this earth, all forms of life were in a state of immortality. There was no death in the world; death entered after the fall." p. 252 (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine]
The current CES manuals used by church still argue that there was no death before Adam (underlining added):
“Then what is meant by the ‘first flesh'? It is simple when you understand it. Adam was the first of all creatures to fall and become flesh, and flesh in this sense means mortality, and all through our scriptures the Lord speaks of this life as flesh, while we are here in the flesh, so Adam became the first flesh. There was no other mortal creature before him, and there was no mortal death until he brought it, and the scriptures tell you that. It is here written, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” ( Seek Ye Earnestly, pp. 280–81.)
The Old Testament Student Manual published by the Church Educational System contains "several quotes by General Authorities . . . which appear to rule out any possibility of reconciliation of organic evolution with LDS doctrine." Here is an excerpt:
In the world another theory of how things began is popularly held and widely taught. This theory, that of organic evolution, was generally developed from the writings of Charles Darwin. It puts forth different ideas concerning how life began and where man came from. In relation to this theory, the following statements should help you understand what the Church teaches about the Creation and the origin of man. . . .[quoting Joseph Fielding Smith] “You must choose the one and reject the other, for they are in direct conflict and there is a gulf separating them which is so great that it cannot be bridged, no matter how much one may try to do so.…Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for, according to this theory, death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible." (Online reference)
The fossils of animals and plants that have lived and died on this earth are thousands and millions of years old. From ancient dead animals and plants, it takes millions of years for oil and coal to form.
"The existence of these animals is indisputable, for their remains have been found in rocks all over the earth. What eternal purpose they played in the creation and early history of the earth is unknown. The scriptures do not address the question, and it is not the realm of science to explore the issue of why they were here. We can only conclude, as Elder Talmage did, that "[The oldest, that is to say the earliest, rocks thus far identified in land masses reveal the fossilized remains of once living organisms, plant and animal. The coal strata, upon which the world of industry so largely depends, are essentially but highly compressed and chemically changed vegetable substance.] The whole series of chalk deposits and many of our deep-sea limestones contain the skeletal remains of animals. These lived and died, age after age, while the earth was yet unfit for human habitation.'" (James E. Talmage, "The Earth and Man.") Link is here.
"On the other hand, to limit and insist upon the whole of life and death to this side of Adam's advent to the earth, some six or eight thousand years ago, as proposed by some, is to fly in the face of the facts so indisputably brought to light by the researcher of science in modern times, and this as set forth by men of the highest type in the intellectual and moral world.... To pay attention to and give reasonable credence to their research and findings is to link the church of God with the highest increase of human thought and effort." (B.H. Roberts, "The Truth, the Way, the Life.") Link is here.
LDS Apostle (and scientist) James Talmage wrote to his son, Sterling, on May 21, 1931:
"... was bold enough to point out that according to a tradition in the Church based on good authority as having risen from a declaration made by the Prophet Joseph Smith, a certain pile of stones at Adamondi-Ahman, Spring Hill, Mo., is really part of the altar on which Adam offered sacrifices, and that I had personally examined those stones and found them to be fossiliferous, so that if those stones be part of the first altar, Adam built it of stones containing corpses, and therefore death must have prevailed in the earth before Adam's time."
Link is here.
The earth is a coherent whole, and all geologic evidence contradicts the proposition that the earth was made from other planets.
"The "made from other earths" theory fails empirical tests. The continents line up "as if" they all used to be one continent millions of years ago. To test this theory, rock strata are checked at the "line up" points of distant continents. It works, the rocks are similar at the match points.
There is a layer of iridium all around the whole earth that was deposited there at just about the time the dinosaurs became extinct (give or take a hundred thousand years or so). If this earth were made from other earths, then why would that layer cover the whole earth at the same basic depth with the same basic thickness?
This earth was once in a molten state which cooled to allow the continents to solidify. They then separated due to convection from the earth's molten interior (plate tectonics), and the continents separated millions of years ago. If this earth was made from other earths, it was done MILLIONS (if not billions) of years ago."
D&C Sec.77:6 (emphasis added)
Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?
A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.
-- Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 77 (1832)
"Here is a definite statement by revelation to us that this earth will go through 7,000 years of temporal existence. Temporal, by all interpretations, means passing, temporary or mortal. This, then, has reference to the earth in its fallen state, for the earth was cursed when Adam, who was given dominion over it, transgressed the law. Before that time, this earth was not mortal any more that Adam was. This we learn from other scriptures; for instance, see 2 Nephi 2:22." ."We can hardly be justified in trying to harmonize the days of creation with the extended periods of millions of years according to the reckoning of the so-called scientists."
(Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, Volume 1, page 80, 1954 Bookcraft edition, original emphasis preserved)
"The Lord Almighty never created a world like this and peopled it for six thousand years, as He has done, without having some motive in view." (Journal of Discourses 25:9, January 6, 1884. The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 8)
"After passing over the ages and generations of the children of men for about six thousand years, we will come to the present congregation and say the right of heirship is the same now that it was in the beginning." (Journal of Discourses, Vol.6, p.307, Brigham Young, April 8, 1853)
"The world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand Himself;" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 1842-43 p.252)
"We are living in the dispensation and generation to which Jesus referred--the time appointed by God for the last six thousand years, through the mouths of all the prophets and inspired men who have lived and left their sayings on record, in which his Zion should be built up and continue upon the earth. These prophecies will have their fulfilment before the world; and all who will not repent will be engulfed in the destructions which are in store for the wicked. If men do not cease from their murders, whoredoms, and all the wickedness and abominations which fill the black catalogue of the crimes of the world, judgment will overtake them; and whether we are believed or not, these sayings are true, and I bear my testimony as a servant of God and as an Elder in Israel to the truth of the events which are going to follow very fast on each other." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, p. 5, Wilford Woodruff, January 1, 1871)
"As there is one day out of seven set apart, sanctified and ordained as a day of rest, so there is one thousand years set apart as a day of rest out of the seven thousand which will constitute the temporal existence of our earth." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, p. 350, Orson Pratt, March 10, 1872)
"We know that it was not six thousand years from the creation to the birth of Christ. How do we know this? God has told us in new revelation that this earth is destined to continue its temporal existence for seven thousand years, and that at the commencement of the seventh thousand, he will cause seven angels to sound their trumpets. In other words, we may call it the Millennium, for the meaning of the world millennium is a thousand years. Six thousand years must pass away from the creation till the time that Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven, and he will not come exactly at the expiration of six thousand years. When the Prophet Joseph asked the Lord what was meant by the sounding of the seven trumpets, he was told, "That as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth; even so in the beginning of the seventh thousand years, will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power when he shall have sealed all things unto the end of all things, and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels is the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years; to prepare the way before the time of his coming." This quotation will be found in the Pearl of Great Price. Neither of these trumpets have sounded yet, but they shortly will; and this gives us a little clue to the period and age of our world. We know that six thousand years have not yet elapsed since the creation, but we know that they have very nearly expired.
But how long that morning had existed we do not know, unless we appeal to the Book of Abraham, translated by Joseph Smith from Egyptian papyrus. That tells us in plainness that the way the Lord and the celestial host reckoned time, was by the revolutions of a certain great central body called Kolob, which had one revolution on its axis in a thousand of our years, and that was one day with the Lord, and when the Lord said to Adam, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." the Book of Abraham says it was not yet given unto man the true reckoning of time, and that it was reckoned after the Lord's time that is one thousand years with us was a day with him, and that Adam, if he partook of the forbidden fruit, was to die before that day of a thousand years should expire. Hence when we go back to the history of the creation, we find that the Lord was not in such a great hurry as many suppose, but that he took indefinite periods of long duration to construct this world, and to gather together the elements by the laws of gravitation to lay the foundation and form the nucleus thereof, and when he saw that all things were ready and properly prepared, he then placed the man in the Garden of Eden to rule over all animals, fish and fowls, and to have dominion over the whole face of the earth." (Journal of Discourses, Vol.15, p.263, Orson Pratt, December 29, 1872)
"I do not know but what I am occupying to much time, I will briefly say, however, before closing, that certain records which God has promised to bring to light in his own due time, will far exceed anything that has been revealed through the Book of Mormon or the Bible, or that which has come to us through the Abrahamic record taken from Egyptian papyrus, or that which is contained in the vision of Moses, revealing to him the history of the creation of the world. All these will be as a drop in the bucket in comparison with the eternal knowledge that will yet flow down from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints before this generation shall pass away. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the great deep, and the things of all nations will be revealed. The records of old that were kept by the people of Asia, who have since dwindled into savages by reason of the transgressions of their fathers; and those that have been kept by the ten tribes of the north countries, where they have lived for over 25 centuries; and those records that have been kept by the people of the City of Enoch, giving an account of the dealings of God with ancient Zion, will all come forth to help fill the earth with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the great deep. And John, when upon the Isle of Patmos, saw things in vision, which were commanded to be sealed up, and they are yet to be unsealed; and in this way we shall receive knowledge upon knowledge, revelation upon revelation, concerning not only the six or seven thousand years of the earth's temporal existence, but concerning the materials of the earth before it was made, and the elements and materials, and all things pertaining to the future earth that is to be created when the elements of this earth shall be dissolved and pass away into space." (George Q. Cannon, April 6, 1878)
"How different was the second or temporal work, that existed in the beginning of the great work of creation, from the present order of things! Now we see, and according to history we learn, that all creation are at enmity one with another in their natural state. Hence we find the lions with teeth, probably constructed since the fall, and adapted to devour their prey. I do not believe they had such teeth in the beginning. They had teeth with which they ate "straw like the ox." But everything was changed in a great measure, in this beautiful temporal creation; and the beasts began to fight, and quarrel and devour each other; and man began to be ferocious, like the beasts, desirous to kill his fellow man. We see him at this early stage in our race, seeking the blood of his fellows, and entering into secret combinations to kill, and destroy, and rob one another of their position and property, and to be at enmity one against another. The Lord in the midst of this fallen condition of his temporal work, has permitted it to continue for about 6,000 years. Enmity prevails, and has prevailed, for the last 6,000 years, with the exception of now and then a dispensation, being introduced, wherein this fallen nature of ours becomes, in a great measure, changed through obedience to the plan of salvation which God has revealed; and then we begin to love our fellow-men, are filled with love and kindness like, in some measure, our heavenly Father, going forth and proclaiming to them the Gospel of peace, and trying to do them good, and redeem them, and reclaim them; and we succeed, now and then, in bringing some to a higher stake; they are born of God, and become new creatures in Christ, being filled with that superior power, that exists in that celestial world, where we formerly resided. While this earth existed in its more perfect temporal form, Adam and Eve were placed upon it, and they were immortal, just like all the beasts and just like the fishes of the sea; death had not yet come upon any of them; all things were immortal so far as this creation was concerned. The first pairs, the beginning of his temporal work, were not subject to death. We are now living near the close of 6000 years during which time evil and wickedness have prevailed." (Journal of Discourses, Vol.21, p.202, Orson Pratt, November 12th, 1879)
Editor comment:In modern times the LDS Church generally avoids making definitive statements on the age of the earth as evidence by this quote from the 2009 Old Testament institute manual:
While it is interesting to note these various theories, officially the Church has not taken a stand on the age of the earth. For reasons best known to Himself, the Lord has not yet seen fit to formally reveal the details of the Creation. Therefore, while Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn truth from many different fields of study (see D&C 88:77–79 ), an attempt to establish any theory as the official position of the Church is not justifiable.
However they don't necessarily embrace the scientific view and provide enough 'evidence' of an earth only thousands of years old by mentioning this theory:
Although the majority of geologists, astronomers, and other scientists believe that even this long period [6000 years] is not adequate to explain the physical evidence found in the earth, there are a small number of reputable scholars who disagree. These claim that the geologic clocks are misinterpreted and that tremendous catastrophes in the earth's history speeded up the processes that normally may take thousands of years. They cite evidence supporting the idea that thirteen thousand years is not an unrealistic time period. Immanuel Velikovsky, for example, wrote three books amassing evidence that worldwide catastrophic upheavals have occurred in recent history, and he argued against uniformitarianism, the idea that the natural processes in evidence now have always prevailed at the same approximate rate of uniformity. creation account, is interpreted. These books are Worlds in Collision, Ages in Chaos, and Earth in Upheaval. Two Latter-day Saint scientists, Melvin A. Cook and M. Garfield Cook, have also advocated this theory in their book Science and Mormonism. A short summary of the Cooks' approach can be found in Paul Cracroft's article “How Old Is the Earth?”(Improvement Era, Oct. 1964, pp. 827–30, 852).
HOWEVER, the quotes given above by the prophets since Joseph Smith's time show that the LDS Church clearly taught that the earth was only thousands of years old instead of billions of years old for all of the 19th century and much of the 20th century. The quotes in the Doctrine & Covenants are canonized scripture and what they say cannot be ignored. Many gospel doctrine teachers still teach that the earth isn't nearly as old as scientists say.
"The generally accepted age for the Earth and the rest of the solar system is about 4.55 billion years (plus or minus about 1%). This value is derived from several different lines of evidence."
Link is here.
"According to the geological and biological record of the Earth's history, the first life began between 3.8 and 3.3 billion years ago. Traditionally, the earliest fossil evidence of multi-cellular life is about 580 million years old, however in 1998 scientists at Yale University reported evidence that worm-like animals lived on Earth 1.1 billion years ago. The earliest land plant is about 460 million years old. The oldest land animals ever discovered lived about 414 million years ago, according to discoveries made in 1990 near Ludlow.
...radiocarbon dating has been verified back 50,000 years using polar ice cores. There is also the question of layers of sediment. The layers above are newer than those below. If a skeleton is found in a layer of 60,000 year old rock, the skeleton is 60,000 years old. If it is found below that layer, it is older than 60,000 years. There are also many other forms of dating, some of which are described here: Link is here."
"Radiometric dating—the process of determining the age of rocks from the decay of their radioactive elements--has been in widespread use for over half a century. There are over forty such techniques, each using a different radioactive element or a different way of measuring them. It has become increasingly clear that these radiometric dating techniques agree with each other and as a whole, present a coherent picture in which the Earth was created a very long time ago. Further evidence comes from the complete agreement between radiometric dates and other dating methods such as counting tree rings [dendrochronology] or glacier ice core layers. Many Christians have been led to distrust radiometric dating and are completely unaware of the great number of laboratory measurements that have shown these methods to be consistent.
This paper describes in relatively simple terms how a number of the dating techniques work, how accurately the half-lives of the radioactive elements and the rock dates themselves are known, and how dates are checked with one another.
Arguments over the age of the Earth have sometimes been divisive for people who regard the Bible as God's word. Even though the Earth's age is never mentioned in the Bible, it is an issue because those who take a strictly literal view of the early chapters of Genesis can calculate an approximate date for the creation by adding up the life-spans of the people mentioned in the genealogies. Assuming a strictly literal of the week of creation, even if some of the generations were left out of the genealogies, the Earth would be less than ten thousand years old. Radiometric dating techniques indicate that the Earth is thousands of times older than that--approximately four and a half billion years old. Many Christians accept this and interpret the Genesis account in less scientifically literal ways. However, some Christians suggest that the geologic dating techniques are unreliable, that they are wrongly interpreted, or that they are confusing at best. Unfortunately, much of the literature available to Christians has been either inaccurate or difficult to understand, so that confusion over dating techniques continues.
The next few pages cover a broad overview of radiometric dating techniques, show a few examples, and discuss the degree to which the various dating systems agree with each other. The goal is to promote greater understanding on this issue, particularly for the Christian community. Many people have been led to be skeptical of dating without knowing much about it. For example, most people don't realize that carbon dating is only rarely used on rocks." (continued here: Link is here.)
".there are a number of different ways that annual sequences can be counted, ones that do not rely on radioactivity or rocket science to understand:
This is continued here: Link is here.
Non-LDS arguments against Age of Earth: Creation Science
"...the First Presidency issued the following in 1909, which expresses the Church's doctrinal position on these [evolution] matters." First Presidency, "The Origin of Man," Ensign, Feb. 2002, 26Link is here.
"Of course, I think those people who hold to the view that man has come up through all these ages from the scum of the sea through billions of years do not believe in Adam. Honestly I do not know how they can, and I am going to show you that they do not. There are some who attempt to do it but they are inconsistent - absolutely inconsistent, because that doctrine is so incompatible, so utterly out of harmony, with the revelations of the Lord that a man just cannot believe in both.
...I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory [of evolution] of the origin of man, and at the same time accept the plan of salvation as set forth by the Lord our God. You must choose the one and reject the other, for they are in direct conflict and there is a gulf separating them which is so great that it cannot be bridged, no matter how much one may try to do so....
...Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for, according to this theory [of evolution], death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible. Are you prepared to believe such a thing as that?" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, section "Evolution and Religion Cannot be Harmonized", 1:141-142}
All authentic accounts of the earth's origins have a single source-the Creator of all things, whose explanations come to us through prophets. For centuries only one account has been available to the world-the record now preserved in the Bible. But with the Restoration have come three others. Each of these four accounts offers valuable insight into the process and purposes of the Creation.
The Book of Moses Account (Moses 1-3; JST, Gen. 1-2). After Joseph Smith had translated the Book of Mormon and learned that many plain and precious truths had been taken from the Bible, the Lord commanded him to "translate" the Bible. In doing so, he used neither Hebrew nor Greek documents but drew upon revelation and inspiration as the source of the text.
Moses had been shown a vision depicting something of the breadth and depth of the Lord's creations. When Moses asked for more information about the origin of this earth, the Lord responded: "Moses . I will speak unto thee concerning this earth; . write the things which I shall speak." (Moses 1:40; italics added.) Moses then wrote his account, which is the basis for the account appearing in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST, sometimes called the Inspired Version).
The text now known as the Book of Moses was extracted from the Joseph Smith Translation and published in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851.
Keith Meservy, "Four Accounts of the Creation," Ensign, Jan. 1986.
"Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book [of Mormon] to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth." (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1975)
"These principles do not change, as represented by evolutionists of the Darwinian school, but the primitive organism of all living beings exist in the same form as when they first received their impress from their Maker. There are, indeed, some very slight exceptions, as for instance, the ass may mix with the mare and produce the mule; but there it ends, the violation of the laws of procreation receives a check, and its operations can go no further." (John Taylor, Mediation and the Atonement, p. 6)
"I am grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father's children there has been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the origin of man, that we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some of the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor is God our heavenly Father." (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1925, p. 33)
"Evolutionary theories assume that hundreds of millions of years were involved, first in the creation of the earth as a habitable globe, and again in the evolution of spontaneously generated, single celled forms of life into the complex and multitudinous forms of life now found on its face. We have rather specific scriptural indications that the creative period was of relatively short duration.", Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 184
"Adam and Eve and all forms of life, both animal and plant, were created in immortality; that is, when first placed on this earth, all forms of life were in a state of immortality. There was no death in the world; death entered after the fall.", Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 183
The current CES manuals used by church still argue against evolution:
In the world another theory of how things began is popularly held and widely taught. This theory, that of organic evolution, was generally developed from the writings of Charles Darwin. It puts forth different ideas concerning how life began and where man came from. In relation to this theory, the following statements should help you understand what the Church teaches about the Creation and the origin of man.
“It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was ‘the first man of all men' (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our heavenly Father.” (First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], in Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 4:205.)
“Any theory that leaves out God as a personal, purposeful Being, and accepts chance as a first cause, cannot be accepted by Latter-day Saints. . . . That man and the whole of creation came by chance is unthinkable. It is equally unthinkable that if man came into being by the will and power of God, the divine creative power is limited to one process dimly sensed by mortal man.” (Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1:155.)
“I am grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father's children there has been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the origin of man, that we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some of the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor is God our heavenly Father.” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1925, p. 33.)
“Of course, I think those people who hold to the view that man has come up through all these ages from the scum of the sea through billions of years do not believe in Adam. Honestly I do not know how they can, and I am going to show you that they do not. There are some who attempt to do it but they are inconsistent—absolutely inconsistent, because that doctrine is so incompatible, so utterly out of harmony, with the revelations of the Lord that a man just cannot believe in both.
“. . . I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory of the origin of man, and at the same time accept the plan of salvation as set forth by the Lord our God. You must choose the one and reject the other, for they are in direct conflict and there is a gulf separating them which is so great that it cannot be bridged, no matter how much one may try to do so. . . .
“. . . Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for, according to this theory, death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible. Are you prepared to believe such a thing as that?” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:141–42.)
(2-19) But what of the scientific evidence that supposedly contradicts these statements? Isn't the evidence that all life evolved from a common source overwhelming? Harold G. Coffin, Professor of Paleontology and Research at the Geoscience Research Institute, Andrews University in Michigan, presented one scientist's view of how life began. The following excerpts are from a pamphlet on the Creation written by Dr. Coffin.
“The time has come for a fresh look at the evidence Charles Darwin used to support his evolutionary theory, along with the great mass of new scientific information. Those who have the courage to penetrate through the haze of assumptions which surrounds the question of the origin of life will discover that science presents substantial evidence that creation best explains the origin of life. Four considerations lead to this conclusion.
“1. Life is unique.
“2. Complex animals appeared suddenly.
“3. Change in the past has been limited.
“4. Change in the present is limited.
“Anyone interested in truth must seriously consider these points. The challenge they present to the theory of evolution has led many intelligent and honest men of science now living to reevaluate their beliefs about the origin of life.” (Coffin, Creation: The Evidence from Science, p. .)
Editor comment:Coffin was a Seventh-Day Adventist creationist with minimal credentials as a scientist. His material presents fallacious arguments based on probability, then makes the utterly false claims that there are no intermediate fossils between species, and that species have not changed since creation. This material was dubious when it was written; it is an embarrassment now.
More LDS Quotes: LDS evolution quotes
Chart: "Religious Differences on the Question of Evolution" from Link is here.
Editor comment: This chart supports that most LDS don't accept evolution whereas most other faiths, including Christian faiths, seem to have more support for the science of evolution than the LDS members do. So even if some of the LDS apologists support evolution, the majority of LDS do not.
"In the LDS creation account, the first two days consist of a linear progression from Earth, to light, to heaven. In reality, though, the sequence was energy/matter exploding into existence in the big bang, followed by billions of years during which stars evolved, exploded as supernovae, and seed the dust clouds of interstellar space with the elements that would condense to form our solar system, including the Earth. Instead of a sequence of Earth, light heaven, the actual sequence of events was light/energy/matter, then space filled with stars, the sun, and finally Earth.
The third day also gets the sequence of events wrong by describing the placement of fruit trees and grass on the Earth before animals and the Sun were made. From science we learn that grass and fruit trees evolved only recently. Life existed hundreds of millions of years before the first blades of grass or the first fruiting trees appeared, yet the LDS creation account has grass, fruit trees, herbs and seeds as the first plant life on Earth. It also says these plants preceded animals such as fish, which in reality first evolved hundreds of millions of years earlier.
The sequential problems persist with the description of events on the fourth day. The creation account has the Sun, Moon, and stars being "made" after the stars were in existence thousands of millions of years before the Earth and Sun, and that Earth, Sun, and Moon came into existence thousands of millions of years before, not after, plants evolved on Earth. Indeed, plants could not have evolved with the Sun's light.
The events in days 5 and 6, like those in the previous days, are likewise out of sequence. Day five has birds and fish created, after plants. It also has whales being created on day 5, before land animals on day 6. Whales actually evolved from land animals, about [55-50] million years ago, and birds did not evolve until long after life (including plants) first appeared in the seas.
As you can see, the disagreements are broad and significant. The creation account is not only incorrect if taken at face value regarding the absolute and/or relative timescales, it is incorrect in virtually all it details regarding the sequence of events. As such, it's as incorrect as it's possible for a historical explanation to be."
Duwayne Anderson, Farewell to Eden, Coming to terms with Mormonism and Science, p. 168-171.
"That a primitive, one-celled life form came into existence by some series of natural processes, billions of years ago. Scientists are currently only dimly aware of the nature of these processes.
Billions of years later, this primitive life form had evolved into more complex species (e.g. trilobites), even as the primitive life forms became extinct.
Later species evolved into Dinosaurs hundreds of millions of years ago. They died out, probably because of extreme environmental changes brought about by a massive collision of an asteroid with the Earth. But new species that evolved from the dinosaurs and other species that were on earth with the dinosaurs continued to evolve.
Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, and some of the higher apes appeared much more recently, and shared a common ancestor. Neanderthals became extinct.
All during this extinction of old species and arrival of new species, individual animals died. A very small fraction of those with hard shells or a skeleton became converted to fossils and were embedded in rocks.
Most scientists do not believe that any world-wide flood has occurred. There are serious questions about where all the water came from and went.
If the Theory of Evolution is correct then the fossil record and sedimentary rocks were formed over many hundreds of millions of years, as species evolved. One would expect to see that deeper rocks would contain more primitive forms of life, and shallower fossils would be of more highly evolved species. The tens of thousands of geologists and paleontologists working over the past centuries would never find a single Jurassic Cycad fossil mixed in with a Maple tree fossil. That is because Maples emerged during the more recent Cretaceous era when the Cycads were long extinct. Dinosaurs would never be mixed with the remains of humans, dogs, cats and other modern mammals. Only a primitive, small mammalian species would be found together with Dinosaurs. And no mammals or dinosaurs at all would be found with trilobites (an early form of life that is long extinct). There would be no signs of human habitation at the lowest layer; only very primitive life forms. In fact, there are probably at least 1 million pairs of species that would never be found together in the same rock layer.
If the theory of evolution is [accurate], then the fossil record, from bottom to top, would show gradually more complex, less primitive species. And certain species would be only found in certain layers; they would never be found in others. A trilobite would never be found with a dinosaur; a dinosaur would never be found with a human fossil. [There would be a definite order of species that is consistent across all stratification samples.] There would be no signs of human habitation in the lowest layers.
Scientists have concluded that the theory of evolution is [accurate]. They have traveled to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and to thousands of other locations around the world, and studied the fossil record. They have found fossils of thousands of species of plants and animals which evolutionary scientists believe did not exist on the earth simultaneously. The older species died out before the first member of the more recent species evolved. They can pick any pair of species (e.g. dinosaurs and humans). They found that the fossils of the two species have never been found together. Also, archaeologists have never found remains of ancient villages and towns in and below the oldest layers of rock.
To continue with Charles Pellegrino's quotation:
"... we begin to see the stages of a lengthy history, in which dinosaurs and other creatures are segregated in specific layers of rock, and the farther back we track along the stream of time, the more unlike modern creatures the animals become".
Scientists completed analyzing core samples taken from the bed of the Atlantic Ocean in early 1997. Their three drill samples taken from three locations off the east coast of Florida. 1,2 Their drills penetrated up to 92 meters (300 feet) showed:
The deepest layers contained evidence of many species of animals and came from what the project leader, paleobiologist Dr. Richard Norris, called a "happy-go-lucky" ocean. Above this was a small layer with green glass pebbles, that were originally fused under intense heat. This is believed to be ocean bottom material that was instantly melted by the intense energy release of a colliding asteroid.
Next was a rusty brown layer that is thought to be from the "vaporized remains of the asteroid itself," dated about 65 million years ago. This layer is found elsewhere in the world and contains a high content of iridium, which is a chemical "signature" of asteroids.
Above this is about 5 centimeters (2 inches) of gray clay with strong evidence of a nearly dead ocean. "It was not a completely dead ocean, but most of the species that are seen before [earlier in the core sample] are gone. There are just some very minute fossils. These were the survivors in the ocean."
Above this layer, core samples showed evidence of renewed life.
These results showed that the iridium layer, which has been found at many locations around the world on land, is also observable in the ocean bed. Fossils of highly developed species (man, large mammals, etc.) have never been found below that layer; fossils of ancient species (dinosaurs, trilobites, and a few tens of thousands of other species) have never been found above that layer. If all species were created within a one week period, as described in Genesis, and all the land animals were preserved on Noah's ark, then all land species would be found both above and below the iridium layer.
There are additional indicators why many scientists believe that the order of creation described in Genesis could not have happened:
Some plants rely upon birds and ants for propagation. If plants were created on Day 3, and birds and ants were created on Day 5 and 6, and if each Genesis "day" is equal to 1000 or more real years (as some creation scientists believe), then some plants would have had to survive without propagation for thousands of years. To other creation scientists who believe that a "day" in Genesis is literally 24 hours, then this does not present a problem.
The fossil record clearly shows that land animals developed before birds. But the Genesis account indicates the reverse."
"The five propositions below seem to be the most common misconceptions. If you hear anyone making any of them, chances are excellent that they don't know enough about the real theory of evolution to make informed opinions about it.
Explanations of why these statements are wrong are given here: Link is here.
"A long path leads from the origins of primitive "life," which existed at least 3.5 billion years ago, to the profusion and diversity of life that exists today. This path is best understood as a product of evolution.
Contrary to popular opinion, neither the term nor the idea of biological evolution began with Charles Darwin and his foremost work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859). Many scholars from the ancient Greek philosophers on had inferred that similar species were descended from a common ancestor. The word "evolution" first appeared in the English language in 1647 in a nonbiological connection, and it became widely used in English for all sorts of progressions from simpler beginnings. The term Darwin most often used to refer to biological evolution was "descent with modification," which remains a good brief definition of the process today.
Darwin proposed that evolution could be explained by the differential survival of organisms following their naturally occurring variation--a process he termed "natural selection." According to this view, the offspring of organisms differ from one another and from their parents in ways that are heritable--that is, they can pass on the differences genetically to their own offspring. Furthermore, organisms in nature typically produce more offspring than can survive and reproduce given the constraints of food, space, and other environmental resources. If a particular off spring has traits that give it an advantage in a particular environment, that organism will be more likely to survive and pass on those traits. As differences accumulate over generations, populations of organisms diverge from their ancestors.
Darwin's original hypothesis has undergone extensive modification and expansion, but the central concepts stand firm. Studies in genetics and molecular biology--fields unknown in Darwin's time--have explained the occurrence of the hereditary variations that are essential to natural selection. Genetic variations result from changes, or mutations, in the nucleotide sequence of DNA, the molecule that genes are made from. Such changes in DNA now can be detected and described with great precision.
Genetic mutations arise by chance. They may or may not equip the organism with better means for surviving in its environment. But if a gene variant improves adaptation to the environment (for example, by allowing an organism to make better use of an available nutrient, or to escape predators more effectively--such as through stronger legs or disguising coloration), the organisms carrying that gene are more likely to survive and reproduce than those without it. Over time, their descendants will tend to increase, changing the average characteristics of the population. Although the genetic variation on which natural selection works is based on random or chance elements, natural selection itself produces "adaptive" change--the very opposite of chance.
Scientists also have gained an understanding of the processes by which new species originate. A new species is one in which the individuals cannot mate and produce viable descendants with individuals of a preexisting species [in addition to other definitions]. The split of one species into two often starts because a group of individuals becomes geographically separated from the rest. This is particularly apparent in distant remote islands, such as the Gal�pagos and the Hawaiian archipelago, whose great distance from the Americas and Asia means that arriving colonizers will have little or no opportunity to mate with individuals remaining on those continents. Mountains, rivers, lakes, and other natural barriers also account for geographic separation between populations that once belonged to the same species.
Once isolated, geographically separated groups of individuals become genetically differentiated as a consequence of mutation and other processes, including natural selection. The origin of a species is often a gradual process, so that at first the reproductive isolation between separated groups of organisms is only partial, but it eventually becomes complete. Scientists pay special attention to these intermediate situations, because they help to reconstruct the details of the process and to identify particular genes or sets of genes that account for the reproductive isolation between species.
The following sections consider several aspects of biological evolution in greater detail, looking at paleontology, comparative anatomy, biogeography, embryology, and molecular biology for further evidence supporting evolution.
Although it was Darwin, above all others, who first marshaled convincing evidence for biological evolution, earlier scholars had recognized that organisms on Earth had changed systematically over long periods of time. For example, in 1799 an engineer named William Smith reported that, in undisrupted layers of rock, fossils occurred in a definite sequential order, with more modern-appearing ones closer to the top. Because bottom layers of rock logically were laid down earlier and thus are older than top layers, the sequence of fossils also could be given a chronology from oldest to youngest. His findings were confirmed and extended in the 1830s by the paleontologist William Lonsdale, who recognized that fossil remains of organisms from lower strata were more primitive than the ones above. Today, many thousands of ancient rock deposits have been identified that show corresponding successions of fossil organisms.
Thus, the general sequence of fossils had already been recognized before Darwin conceived of descent with modification. But the paleontologists and geologists before Darwin used the sequence of fossils in rocks not as proof of biological evolution, but as a basis for working out the original sequence of rock strata that had been structurally disturbed by earthquakes and other forces.
In Darwin's time, paleontology was still a rudimentary science. Large parts of the geological succession of stratified rocks were unknown or inadequately studied.
Darwin, therefore, worried about the rarity of intermediate forms between some major groups of organisms.
Today, many of the gaps in the paleontological record have been filled by the research of paleontologists. Hundreds of thousands of fossil organisms, found in well-dated rock sequences, represent successions of forms through time and manifest many evolutionary transitions. As mentioned earlier, microbial life of the simplest type was already in existence 3.5 billion years ago. The oldest evidence of more complex organisms (that is, eucaryotic cells, which are more complex than bacteria) has been discovered in fossils sealed in rocks approximately 2 billion years old. Multicellular organisms, which are the familiar fungi, plants, and animals, have been found only in younger geological strata. The following list presents the order in which increasingly complex forms of life appeared:
|Life Form||Millions of Years Since|
First Known Appearance
|Microbial (procaryotic cells)||3,500|
|Complex (eucaryotic cells)||2,000|
|First multicellular animals||670|
|Vertebrates (simple fishes)||490|
|Australopithecine ancestors of humans||4|
|Modern humans||0.15 (150,000 years)|
So many intermediate forms have been discovered between fish and amphibians, between amphibians and reptiles, between reptiles and mammals, and along the primate lines of descent that it often is difficult to identify categorically when the transition occurs from one to another particular species. Actually, nearly all fossils can be regarded as intermediates in some sense; they are life forms that come between the forms that preceded them and those that followed.
The fossil record thus provides consistent evidence of systematic change through time--of descent with modification. From this huge body of evidence, it can be predicted that no reversals will be found in future paleontological studies. That is, amphibians will not appear before fishes, nor mammals before reptiles, and no complex life will occur in the geological record before the oldest eucaryotic cells. This prediction has been upheld by the evidence that has accumulated until now: no reversals have been found.
Inferences about common descent derived from paleontology are reinforced by comparative anatomy. For example, the skeletons of humans, mice, and bats are strikingly similar, despite the different ways of life of these animals and the diversity of environments in which they flourish. The correspondence of these animals, bone by bone, can be observed in every part of the body, including the limbs; yet a person writes, a mouse runs, and a bat flies with structures built of bones that are different in detail but similar in general structure and relation to each other.
Scientists call such structures homologies and have concluded that they are best explained by common descent. Comparative anatomists investigate such homologies, not only in bone structure but also in other parts of the body, working out relationships from degrees of similarity. Their conclusions provide important inferences about the details of evolutionary history, inferences that can be tested by comparisons with the sequence of ancestral forms in the paleontological record.
The mammalian ear and jaw are instances in which paleontology and comparative anatomy combine to show common ancestry through transitional stages. The lower jaws of mammals contain only one bone, whereas those of reptiles have several. The other bones in the reptile jaw are homologous with bones now found in the mammalian ear. Paleontologists have discovered intermediate forms of mammal-like reptiles (Therapsida) with a double jaw joint--one composed of the bones that persist in mammalian jaws, the other consisting of bones that eventually became the hammer and anvil of the mammalian ear.
Biogeography also has contributed evidence for descent from common ancestors. The diversity of life is stupendous. Approximately 250,000 species of living plants, 100,000 species of fungi, and one million species of animals have been described and named, each occupying its own peculiar ecological setting or niche; and the census is far from complete. Some species, such as human beings and our companion the dog, can live under a wide range of environments. Others are amazingly specialized. One species of a fungus (Laboulbenia) grows exclusively on the rear portion of the covering wings of a single species of beetle (Aphaenops cronei) found only in some caves of southern France. The larvae of the fly Drosophila carcinophila can develop only in specialized grooves beneath the flaps of the third pair of oral appendages of a land crab that is found only on certain Caribbean islands.
How can we make intelligible the colossal diversity of living beings and the existence of such extraordinary, seemingly whimsical creatures as the fungus, beetle, and fly described above? And why are island groups like the Gal�pagos so often inhabited by forms similar to those on the nearest mainland but belonging to different species? Evolutionary theory explains that biological diversity results from the descendants of local or migrant predecessors becoming adapted to their diverse environments. This explanation can be tested by examining present species and local fossils to see whether they have similar structures, which would indicate how one is derived from the other. Also, there should be evidence that species without an established local ancestry had migrated into the locality.
Wherever such tests have been carried out, these conditions have been confirmed. A good example is provided by the mammalian populations of North and South America, where strikingly different native organisms evolved in isolation until the emergence of the isthmus of Panama approximately 3 million years ago. Thereafter, the armadillo, porcupine, and opossum--mammals of South American origin--migrated north, along with many other species of plants and animals, while the mountain lion and other North American species made their way across the isthmus to the south.
The evidence that Darwin found for the influence of geographical distribution on the evolution of organisms has become stronger with advancing knowledge. For example, approximately 2,000 species of flies belonging to the genus Drosophila are now found throughout the world. About one-quarter of them live only in Hawaii. More than a thousand species of snails and other land mollusks also are found only in Hawaii. The biological explanation for the multiplicity of related species in remote localities is that such great diversity is a consequence of their evolution from a few common ancestors that colonized an isolated environment. The Hawaiian Islands are far from any mainland or other islands, and on the basis of geological evidence they never have been attached to other lands. Thus, the few colonizers that reached the Hawaiian Islands found many available ecological niches, where they could, over numerous generations, undergo evolutionary change and diversification. No mammals other than one bat species lived in the Hawaiian Islands when the first human settlers arrived; similarly, many other kinds of plants and animals were absent.
The Hawaiian Islands are not less hospitable than other parts of the world for the absent species. For example, pigs and goats have multiplied in the wild in Hawaii, and other domestic animals also thrive there. The scientific explanation for the absence of many kinds of organisms, and the great multiplication of a few kinds, is that many sorts of organisms never reached the islands, because of their geographic isolation. Those that did reach the islands diversified over time because of the absence of related organisms that would compete for resources.
Embryology, the study of biological development from the time of conception, is another source of independent evidence for common descent. Barnacles, for instance, are sedentary crustaceans with little apparent similarity to such other crustaceans as lobsters, shrimps, or copepods. Yet barnacles pass through a free-swimming larval stage in which they look like other crustacean larvae. The similarity of larval stages supports the conclusion that all crustaceans have homologous parts and a common ancestry.
Similarly, a wide variety of organisms from fruit flies to worms to mice to humans have very similar sequences of genes that are active early in development. These genes influence body segmentation or orientation in all these diverse groups. The presence of such similar genes doing similar things across such a wide range of organisms is best explained by their having been present in a very early common ancestor of all of these groups.
The unifying principle of common descent that emerges from all the foregoing lines of evidence is being reinforced by the discoveries of modern biochemistry and molecular biology.
The code used to translate nucleotide sequences into amino acid sequences is essentially the same in all organisms. Moreover, proteins in all organisms are invariably composed of the same set of 20 amino acids. This unity of composition and function is a powerful argument in favor of the common descent of the most diverse organisms.
In 1959, scientists at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom determined the three-dimensional structures of two proteins that are found in almost every multicelled animal: hemoglobin and myoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. Myoglobin receives oxygen from hemoglobin and stores it in the tissues until needed. These were the first three-dimensional protein structures to be solved, and they yielded some key insights. Myoglobin has a single chain of 153 amino acids wrapped around a group of iron and other atoms (called "heme") to which oxygen binds. Hemoglobin, in contrast, is made of up four chains: two identical chains consisting of 141 amino acids, and two other identical chains consisting of 146 amino acids. However, each chain has a heme exactly like that of myoglobin, and each of the four chains in the hemoglobin molecule is folded exactly like myoglobin. It was immediately obvious in 1959 that the two molecules are very closely related.
During the next two decades, myoglobin and hemoglobin sequences were determined for dozens of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, worms, and molluscs. All of these sequences were so obviously related that they could be compared with confidence with the three-dimensional structures of two selected standards--whale myoglobin and horse hemoglobin. Even more significantly, the differences between sequences from different organisms could be used to construct a family tree of hemoglobin and myoglobin variation among organisms. This tree agreed [mostly] with observations derived from paleontology and anatomy about the common descent of the corresponding organisms.
Similar family histories have been obtained from the three-dimensional structures and amino acid sequences of other proteins, such as cytochrome c (a protein engaged in energy transfer) and the digestive proteins trypsin and chymotrypsin. The examination of molecular structure offers a new and extremely powerful tool for studying evolutionary relationships. The quantity of information is potentially huge--as large as the thousands of different proteins contained in living organisms, and limited only by the time and resources of molecular biologists.
As the ability to sequence the nucleotides making up DNA has improved, it also has become possible to use genes to reconstruct the evolutionary history of organisms. Because of mutations, the sequence of nucleotides in a gene gradually changes over time. The more closely related two organisms are, the less different their DNA will be. Because there are tens of thousands of genes in humans and other organisms, DNA contains a tremendous amount of information about the evolutionary history of each organism.
Genes evolve at different rates because, although mutation is a random event, some proteins are much more tolerant of changes in their amino acid sequence than are other proteins. For this reason, the genes that encode these more tolerant, less constrained proteins evolve faster. The average rate at which a particular kind of gene or protein evolves gives rise to the concept of a "molecular clock." Molecular clocks run rapidly for less constrained proteins and slowly for more constrained proteins, though they all time the same evolutionary events.
The figure on this page compares three molecular clocks: for cytochrome c proteins, which interact intimately with other macromolecules and are quite constrained in their amino acid sequences; for the less rigidly constrained hemoglobins, which interact mainly with oxygen and other small molecules; and for fibrinopeptides, which are protein fragments that are cut from larger proteins (fibrinogens) when blood clots. The clock for fibrinopeptides runs rapidly; 1 percent of the amino acids change in a little longer than 1 million years. At the other extreme, the molecular clock runs slowly for cytochrome c; a 1 percent change in amino acid sequence requires 20 million years. The hemoglobin clock is intermediate.
The concept of a molecular clock is useful for two purposes. It determines evolutionary relationships among organisms, and it indicates the time in the past when species started to diverge from one another. Once the clock for a particular gene or protein has been calibrated by reference to some event whose time is known, the actual chronological time when all other events occurred can be determined by examining the protein or gene tree.
An interesting additional line of evidence supporting evolution involves sequences of DNA known as "pseudogenes." Pseudogenes are remnants of genes that no longer function but continue to be carried along in DNA as excess baggage. Pseudogenes also change through time, as they are passed on from ancestors to descendants, and they offer an especially useful way of reconstructing evolutionary relationships.
With functioning genes, one possible explanation for the relative similarity between genes from different organisms is that their ways of life are similar--for example, the genes from a horse and a zebra could be more similar because of their similar habitats and behaviors than the genes from a horse and a tiger. But this possible explanation does not work for pseudogenes, since they perform no function. Rather, the degree of similarity between pseudogenes must simply reflect their evolutionary relatedness. The more remote the last common ancestor of two organisms, the more dissimilar their pseudogenes will be. [However, work on pseudogenes is continuing, with possibilities arising for some contribution of functions.]
The evidence for evolution from molecular biology is overwhelming and is growing quickly. In some cases, this molecular evidence makes it possible to go beyond the paleontological evidence. For example, it has long been postulated that whales descended from land mammals that had returned to the sea. From anatomical and paleontological evidence, the whales' closest living land relatives seemed to be the even-toed hoofed mammals (modern cattle, sheep, camels, goats, etc.). Recent comparisons of some milk protein genes (beta-casein and kappa-casein) have confirmed this relationship and have suggested that the closest land-bound living relative of whales may be the hippopotamus. In this case, molecular biology has augmented the fossil record.
Some creationists cite what they say is an incomplete fossil record as evidence for the failure of evolutionary theory. The fossil record was incomplete in Darwin's time, but many of the important gaps that existed then have been filled by subsequent paleontological research. Perhaps the most persuasive fossil evidence for evolution is the consistency of the sequence of fossils from early to recent. Nowhere on Earth do we find, for example, mammals in Devonian (the age of fishes) strata, or human fossils coexisting with dinosaur remains. Undisturbed strata with simple unicellular organisms predate those with multicellular organisms, and invertebrates precede vertebrates; nowhere has this sequence been found inverted. Fossils from adjacent strata are more similar than fossils from temporally distant strata. The most reasonable scientific conclusion that can be drawn from the fossil record is that descent with modification has taken place as stated in evolutionary theory.
Special creationists argue that "no one has seen evolution occur." This misses the point about how science tests hypotheses. We don't see Earth going around the sun or the atoms that make up matter. We "see" their consequences. Scientists infer that atoms exist and Earth revolves because they have tested predictions derived from these concepts by extensive observation and experimentation.
Furthermore, on a minor scale, we "experience" evolution occurring every day. The annual changes in influenza viruses and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are both products of evolutionary forces. Indeed, the rapidity with which organisms with short generation times, such as bacteria and viruses, can evolve under the influence of their environments is of great medical significance. Many laboratory experiments have shown that, because of mutation and natural selection, such microorganisms can change in specific ways from those of immediately preceding generations.
On a larger scale, the evolution of mosquitoes resistant to insecticides is another example of the tenacity and adaptability of organisms under environmental stress. Similarly, malaria parasites have become resistant to the drugs that were used extensively to combat them for many years. As a consequence, malaria is on the increase, with more than 300 million clinical cases of malaria occurring every year.
Molecular evolutionary data counter a recent proposition called "intelligent design theory." Proponents of this idea argue that structural complexity is proof of the direct hand of God in specially creating organisms as they are today. These arguments echo those of the 18th century cleric William Paley who held that the vertebrate eye, because of its intricate organization, had been specially designed in its present form by an omnipotent Creator. Modern-day intelligent design proponents argue that molecular structures such as DNA, or molecular processes such as the many steps that blood goes through when it clots, [or the bacterial flagellum Link is here.] are so irreducibly complex that they can function only if all the components are operative at once. Thus, proponents of intelligent design say that these structures and processes could not have evolved in the stepwise mode characteristic of natural selection.
However, structures and processes that are claimed to be"irreducibly" complex typically are not on closer inspection. For example, it is incorrect to assume that a complex structure or biochemical process can function only if all its components are present and functioning as we see them today. Complex biochemical systems can be built up from simpler systems through natural selection. Thus, the "history" of a protein can be traced through simpler organisms. Jawless fish have a simpler hemoglobin than do jawed fish, which in turn have a simpler hemoglobin than mammals.
The evolution of complex molecular systems can occur in several ways. Natural selection can bring together parts of a system for one function at one time and then, at a later time, recombine those parts with other systems of components to produce a system that has a different function. Genes can be duplicated, altered, and then amplified through natural selection. The complex biochemical cascade resulting in blood clotting has been explained in this fashion.
Similarly, evolutionary mechanisms are capable of explaining the origin of highly complex anatomical structures. For example, eyes may have evolved independently many times during the history of life on Earth. The steps proceed from a simple eye spot made up of light-sensitive retinula cells (as is now found in the flatworm), to formation of individual photosensitive units (ommatidia) in insects with light focusing lenses, to the eventual formation of an eye with a single lens focusing images onto a retina. In humans and other vertebrates, the retina consists not only of photoreceptor cells but also of several types of neurons that begin to analyze the visual image. Through such gradual steps, very different kinds of eyes have evolved, from simple light-sensing organs to highly complex systems for vision."
Link is here. National Academy of Sciences, especially see this site for the illustrations
Evolution and Creationism Debate
Wikipedia has a good description of the issues and covers both sides fot he debate. Link is here.
LDS Apologist Response: FAIR on Evolution
Non-LDS arguments against Age of Earth: Creation Science
"And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word" (Moses 3:4-7; see also Moses 1 and Moses 2, and compare with Gen. 1 and Gen. 2).
It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was 'the first man of all men' (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our heavenly Father."�First Presidency, "The Origin of Man," Ensign, Feb. 2002, 26
Adam and Eve knew God personally. They saw him and talked with him. They were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ even in that early time-which was long before the Lord's earthly ministry, for Jesus had been appointed to be the Savior during our premortal existence.
The plan of salvation, therefore, was instituted among these first human beings, Adam and Eve and their children." Mark E. Petersen, "Adam, the Archangel," Ensign, Nov 1980, 16
"In modern times, with the advent of archaeological discoveries, the theory of evolution, and genetic science, Christians believing in the historicity of Adam and Eve were challenged. Many denominations have rejected the historicity of Adam and Eve; others have retained it, including (at least officially) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and some conservative Christian denominations." Link is here.
"Studies in evolutionary biology have led to the conclusion that human beings arose from ancestral primates. This association was hotly debated among scientists in Darwin's day. But today there is no significant scientific doubt about the close evolutionary relationships among all primates, including humans.
Many of the most important advances in paleontology over the past century relate to the evolutionary history of humans. Not one but many connecting links--intermediate between and along various branches of the human family tree--have been found as fossils. These linking fossils occur in geological deposits of intermediate age. They document the time and rate at which primate and human evolution occurred.
Scientists have unearthed thousands of fossil specimens representing members of the human family. A great number of these cannot be assigned to the modern human species, Homo sapiens. Most of these specimens have been well dated, often by means of radiometric techniques. They reveal a well-branched tree, parts of which trace a general evolutionary sequence leading from ape-like forms to modern humans.
Paleontologists have discovered numerous species of extinct apes in rock strata that are older than four million years, but never a member of the human family at that great age. Australopithecus, whose earliest known fossils are about four million years old, is a genus with some features closer to apes and some closer to modern humans. In brain size, Australopithecus was barely more advanced than apes. A number of features, including long arms, short legs, intermediate toe structure, and features of the upper limb, indicate that the members of this species spent part of the time in trees. But they also walked upright on the ground, like humans. Bipedal tracks of Australopithecus have been discovered, beautifully preserved with those of other extinct animals, in hardened volcanic ash. Most of our Australopithecus ancestors died out close to two-and-a-half million years ago, while other Australopithecus species, which were on side branches of the human tree, survived alongside more advanced hominids for another million years.
Distinctive bones of the oldest species of the human genus, Homo, date back to rock strata about 2.4 million years old. Physical anthropologists agree that Homo evolved from one of the species of Australopithecus. By two million years ago, early members of Homo had an average brain size one-and-a-half times larger than that of Australopithecus, though still substantially smaller than that of modern humans. The shapes of the pelvic and leg bones suggest that these early Homo were not part-time climbers like Australopithecus but walked and ran on long legs, as modern humans do. Just as Australopithecus showed a complex of ape-like, human-like, and intermediate features, so was early Homo intermediate between Australopithecus and modern humans in some features, and close to modern humans in other respects. The earliest stone tools are of virtually the same age as the earliest fossils of Homo. Early Homo, with its larger brain than Australopithecus, was a maker of stone tools.
The fossil record for the interval between 2.4 million years ago and the present includes the skeletal remains of several species assigned to the genus Homo. The more recent species had larger brains than the older ones. This fossil record is complete enough to show that the human genus first spread from its place of origin in Africa to Europe and Asia a little less than two million years ago. Distinctive types of stone tools are associated with various populations. More recent species with larger brains generally used more sophisticated tools than more ancient species.
Molecular biology also has provided strong evidence of the close relationship between humans and apes. Analysis of many proteins and genes has shown that humans are genetically similar to chimpanzees and gorillas and less similar to orangutans and other primates.
DNA has even been extracted from a well-preserved skeleton of the extinct human creature known as Neanderthal, a member of the genus Homo and often considered either as a subspecies of Homo sapiens or as a separate species. Application of the molecular clock, which makes use of known rates of genetic mutation, suggests that Neanderthal's lineage diverged from that of modern Homo sapiens less than half a million years ago, which is entirely compatible with evidence from the fossil record.
Based on molecular and genetic data, evolutionists favor the hypothesis that modern Homo sapiens, individuals very much like us, evolved from more archaic humans about 100,000 to 150,000 years ago. They also believe that this transition occurred in Africa, with modern humans then dispersing to Asia, Europe, and eventually Australasia and the Americas.
Discoveries of hominid remains during the past three decades in East and South Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere have combined with advances in molecular biology to initiate a new discipline--molecular paleoanthropology. This field of inquiry is providing an ever-growing inventory of evidence for a genetic affinity between human beings and the African apes.
Opinion polls show that many people believe that divine intervention actively guided the evolution of human beings. Science cannot comment on the role that supernatural forces might play in human affairs. But scientific investigations have concluded that the same forces responsible for the evolution of all other life forms on Earth can account for the evolution of human beings."
The Genographic Project, launched in April 2005, is a five-year genetic anthropology study that aims to map historical human migration patterns by collecting and analyzing DNA samples from over 100,000 people across five continents.
A LDS believer has provided MT with a written response to the critics' problems with Adam & Eve. Our Secular Critics and the Adam and Eve Myth
We appreciate this response to the critics' issues regarding Adam & Eve and welcome the dialogue between critic and believer. However, we take issue with the charge that MT's critics 'cherry-picked' quotes from General Authorities supporting a literal Adam & Eve. We have been unable to find any quotes from General Authorities or LDS scriptures that suggest that the story of Adam & Eve should not be taken literally.
There are many other Bible accounts that seem to defy credibility. Here is more information on the implausibility of some of them.
"A Whale of a Tale: Fundamentalist Fish Stories" Link is here.
"Has NASA Discovered Joshua's "Lost Day'"? Link is here.
"Archaeology and Biblical Accuracy" Link is here.
"False testament: archaeology refutes the Bible's claim to history" Link is here.
"King David and King Solomon: History or Myth?" Link is here.
"The Numbers of the Book" Link is here.
"...archeological evidence provides inadequate support for the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites and the genocide that they, according to their own account, allegedly practiced on the previous inhabitants.
Similarly, a fortunate find in 1973 dated the ruin of Lachish (see Joshua 10:32) conclusively to the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses III (circa 1194 - 1163 BC), far too late for a conquest by Joshua. Several other sites in Palestine, named in the books of Joshua and Judges, either show no signs of walled urban settlement during Joshua's time, or they show no signs of a single wave of common destruction.
So much for the declaration, at the end of the chapter, that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Here's a short list of some other historical events in the Bible that should be supported by archaeological evidence, but aren't:
For more information on historical myths in the Bible as they relate to archaeology, try the book Out Of The Desert by William H. Steibing Jr. Link is here.
We regret that we could not find these issues discussed comprehensively in any church publication or website. However, we found several responses from LDS members and LDS leaders and LDS apologetic websites. Some of the pro-LDS responses have already been given in the individual sections above. However, since the story of Noah had the most responses we could find, we list that in the summary section below as the story of Noah's Flood captures the true essence of the conflicts between science and the LDS religion:
Maybe the story of Noah happened just as told in the Bible. How can anyone say with 100% certainty that it didn't? I don't intend to stop believing in a divine story told in the Bible and taught to me as a literal event in church all my life just because the scientists say it is very improbable.
Even the faithful, knowledgeable members of the Church are recognizing the impossibility of the Great Flood. We read this article posted on the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship (LDS Apologist Website) about the flood of Noah and some amazing discrepancies have appeared between the position of the author of this article and the position of the LDS Church.
This article made the following assertions:
Here is the link to the article: Link is here.
This article was striking to us because it directly contradicts all of the Sunday school and seminary lessons we had on this subject. It also contradicts the teachings of the modern apostle Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Doctrine), and it contradicts the modern scriptures (Moses 7:38, Ether 13:2). So.what are LDS suppose to believe - this article by Duane Jeffery (instructor at BYU) that was published on the church-sanctioned website of the Maxwell Institute, or the scriptures and teachings of modern prophets and apostles?
We are truly baffled that any longtime church member could see how the two teachings co-exist. It appears to me that it would require some big stretches of imagination in order to accept that both views are valid. Are we suppose to believe that if noted General Authority Bruce R McConkie were alive today he would totally agree with what this scholar posted on the Maxwell Institute website?
Perhaps there is a simpler and more plausible answer; the "great flood" is fictional and the modern-day prophets and apostles were/are wrong about it.
Now if the flood didn't happen as originally taught by the modern-day prophets then it causes all sorts of questions to be raised such as the Earth received the flood in order to be 'baptized' by immersion but how could that be if the flood wasn't global?�How could Gabriel be Noah if Noah didn't exist? How could the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham really be truly God's word if they also speak of the flood as a global flood?
Science doesn't know everything.
Someday science will find evidence to support the Book of Mormon.
Satan is deceiving the scientists.
These are the teachings of men, but our knowledge comes from a "higher source."
''We must guard against letting our worldly successes or earthly learning become a substitution for spiritual wisdom and divine direction given through the prophets,'' said Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric in a general conference address in April 1993.
In the Book of Mormon, Mormon explains the deteriorating condition of the Nephites resulting from their misplaced sense of achievement in earthly matters: 'For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.' (Alma 4:8.)
''The Lord further warns us against relying solely upon man's strength and wisdom. He said, 'Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.' '' (2 Ne. 28:31.)
Bishop Edgley further said: ''There are the so-called 'learned' that have let their intellect undermine their spiritual moorings and who would also attempt to lead the faithful away from those who are appointed by the Lord to lead. There are those who feel that our leaders are out of touch with the realities of the day. They would attempt to lead members by substituting their own knowledge for the revelations from God to His prophets. And, unfortunately, there are those who would so follow. Christ warned, 'Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.' '' (Matt. 7:15.) Link is here.
"Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.
"Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: 'I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God's word. I wasn't with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it'." (February 2001 Ensign)
Reference: Link is here.
Like the FARMS apologists, the FAIR apologists also seem to be at odds with the church teachings. Most FAIR apologists accept the data supported by science to agree that there was no global flood.
The conclusion from the FAIR site discussing Noah and Flood is as follows:
Like other Christians, Latter-day Saints hold different views on the issue of whether Noah's flood was local or global. Members of any given LDS congregation may have of a variety of points of view, and many have no firm opinion one way or the other.
A belief in either a global or local flood is not a requirement for Latter-day Saints; traditionally, many earlier members and leaders endorsed the global flood views common in society and Christendom generally. The accumulation of additional scientific information have led some to conclude that a local flood — one limited to the area in which Noah lived — is the best explanation of the available data. People of either view, or neither, can be members in good standing.
MT response to FAIR: You could probably believe whatever you want about anything taught in the LDS Church and they are not going to kick you out of the church. Of course believing in the story of Noah isn't one of the temple recommend interview questions. That isn't the issue. It also doesn't doesn't mean you can dismiss the huge problems this creates for the church if the story of Noah and a global flood isn't true as the church teaches.
Also, FAIR states:
The only item at issue here is that the Flood waters "covered the entire earth." We do believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, built and ark and floated safely away during a catastrophic flood. Whether the Flood cover the entire globe, or whether it only covered Noah's world, it makes absolutely no difference.
We were all taught in church that the global flood was symbolic of our own baptism - that the earth had to have its baptism as well. We all know that when a person is baptized it is invalid if any part of the body is not submerged and has to be baptized again. Why would the earth be different if it is supposed to have received its symbolic baptism as well?
Science admits it doesn't know everything, but it does know a great deal.
Rather than finding evidence that supports the Book of Mormon, increasingly science is finding evidence that refutes it. Even with the help of satellite surveillance, ground penetrating radar, magnetometers, and all other scientific advancements, nothing supporting the Book of Mormon has ever been found, nor is it likely it ever will be.
Scientists do change their minds when new evidence emerges making previous conclusions unsupportable. They don't cling dogmatically to conclusions that are no longer supported by the evidence. Science keeps good record of its mistakes, because it attempts not to repeat them, nor to cover them up. Should we trust scientists who will admit when they were wrong, or religion that pretends it never was?
Is it more reasonable to believe that tens of thousands of scientists all over the world in all generations are in a Satan-deceiving conspiracy, or that one man, Joseph Smith, was the deceiver?
No one complains about the "arm of flesh" providing cars, microwaves, reading glasses, penicillin, airplanes, refrigerators, heart surgery and medical advances, computers and internet, cell phones and faxes, iPods, or many of the other thousands of things we enjoy because of science.
"Mormonism warns about trusting in the arm of flesh for answers which can change and evolve.yet then expects us to trust in their arm of flesh for answers which continue to change and evolve." An essay on whom are we 'trusting in the arm of flesh' is here: Link is here.
"The official statement of the Mormon church on the origin of the earth and life is in Moses-chapter 2 and Abraham-chapter 4 in the Pearl of Great Price.
The heading for chapter 2 reads "As revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet, in December, 1830. The first verse reads "And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning the heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest."
Mormons are the world's preeminent creationists. Other religions can waft away the Hebrew creation myth in the Bible as being allegorical, figurative, or simply borrowed from the Babylonians. Mormons could, if they chose, discount the Genesis account as a bastardized version long since corrupted by many translations. However, the Pearl of Great Price does not afford Mormonism any of these luxuries. Here in the book of Moses and the book of Abraham we find a personal tutorial from god to Joseph Smith describing the earth's formation and the creation of life. No millennia of translations. No corruption from the church of the devil. Just pure revelation from god to the founder of Mormonism. If Mormonism is true, then the creation account in the Pearl of Great Price should be verified by science. That Joseph's creation account is diametrically opposed to the best physical evidence is one of the best proofs I know that he was not inspired of god." Link is here.
UPDATE: Here's Meridian Magazine's argumnents for the literal story of Noah:
Most Mormons in the world are unaware of the ways in which science contradicts some of their most basic beliefs about history. This is understandable because, at least for a long time, it was possible to fit Mormon premises in the cracks of ambiguity and uncertainty. It may have been true that no direct evidence of Israelite colonization had been discovered in the Americas, but archaeologists haven't dug every inch of ground and maybe there is something out there just waiting to be discovered. It is in such gaps that faith always seems to find a foothold.
... As archaeology and anthropology have progressed, though, all such "evidence" has been refuted and we are left with absolutely no basis for the claims.
...Traditional Mormon beliefs about the history and people of the Americas are absolutely and unquestionably wrong - there's just no gentler way to put it - but the overwhelming facts against them don't stop the Mormon leadership from teaching and encouraging belief in these doctrines. People who believe the stories are, at best, sadly ignorant of modern knowledge. People who teach it should know better. Church leaders are arguably engaged in a type of intellectual and scientific fraud.
Mormon scholars have been moving away from traditional religious dogma because the science just doesn't leave them any other option. They have tried, as best as they are able, to harmonize Mormon doctrines with the cold facts of science but they haven't been very successful - Mormon doctrines are just too specific and have been interpreted in a manner that doesn't really allow for adequate harmonization. Most Mormon believers, however, are kept in the dark by their elders.
Some die-hard evangelicals (not LDS) have taken rejecting science to the extreme. They opened a 50,000-square-foot Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. The museum depicts exhibits based on literal interpretations from the Bible. A museum exhibit depicts two archeologists coming to different conclusions while unearthing the same skeleton from the ground. The museum's supporters believe God created the earth a few thousand years ago. Exhibits at the Creation Museum depict literal interpretations of the Bible that contend God created the heavens and the earth just a few thousand years ago. Link is here.
Although this museum isn't supported by the LDS Church, many of the beliefs are in harmony with what the LDS prophets have taught for years. This kind of thinking is hard for many to believe in the 21st century.
If some of the Bible stories never happened does that mean that all churches that use the Bible are false? Maybe - they would be wrong about certain beliefs but perhaps it doesn't necessary invalidate their entire belief system. It does however create a bigger problem for the LDS church as they make the bigger claims about having prophets that receive real revelation from God. It also casts doubt on the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham and Doctrine & Covenants and the inspired version of the Bible that Joseph translated. The LDS scriptures show these Old Testament stories as if they were real historical events. It is a problem for all Christian churches if some of the Old Testament stories are just stories but a much, much bigger problem for the LDS Church and scriptures unique to the LDS Church that support these events.
As stated above, if just the story of Noah isn't true then :
- The Earth received the flood in order to be 'baptized' by immersion but how could that be if the flood wasn't global?
- How could Gabriel be Noah if Noah didn't exist or was just some minor historical figure?
Both the critics and defenders of the faith have compelling points to make. The editors of this section give their own opinion:
First off, it should be noted that not all LDS believe in the historicity of Noah's Ark or that Adam & Eve were the first humans, etc. However, these beliefs were definitely taught in Mormonism from its beginnings and for the most part are still taught today. I was in a Gospel Doctrine class just a couple of years ago and we had a lesson covering Noah's Ark and it was taught as a real, literal event. Gordon B. Hinckley also taught that the Great Flood was real. Ensign articles in modern times also plainly say that these are real events (see above). So those that do not believe in some of the more fantastic biblical stories do so against past and current LDS Church teachings. Many LDS apologists do not support these events as historical but they are not General Authorities and do not speak for the Church.
The Church often does not discuss some of these issues as the leaders know that there are serious credibility problems with them. But unless the church officially refutes their teachings, then the members must follow the scriptures, Ensign articles and past teachings of their prophets. Of course if the church ever does 'override' the teachings of the past, they must explain why their former prophets were in error and explain why their current prophets are not.
"Religions can do only about three things with science. They can, of course, attack it, and many religious concepts now lie in the dust bin of history from that approach. They can ignore it--in which case they progressively become incapable of addressing modern and future problems. Or they can engage it and incorporate the demonstrated truths found thereby into a more productive view of their overall universe." Duane Jeffery, preface to Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding, page ix
We don't do ourselves any favors when we deliberately promote ignorance. Those who discount science are becoming increasingly irrelevant, provincial, uninformed, and disconnected from the real world.
We like to read to our children the story of Noah's Ark. As kids ourselves we played with Noah's Ark figures with the 10 or perhaps even 20 pairs of common zoo animals. The Bible movies with the story of Noah are entertaining and even uplifting. They often mention some of the minor problems like when Noah's son asks 'what will we feed the lions?', Noah responds to use milk from the cows. What they never talk about is the enormity of problems associated with housing and caring for some 16,000 animals and all the problems mentioned above.
Many of us can accept on faith that God perhaps tamed the wild beasts so Noah could handle them and maybe even commanded the animals to travel from around the world to the Ark but it becomes more and more of a strain of faith to believe that God also temporarily altered the biology of freshwater fish so they could survive in the ocean, transformed the internal organs of penguins so they could survive months in warmer temperatures, had eucalyptus leaves fall from the sky daily to feed the Koalas, change the geology of the planet to erase any trace of the flood, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.
Some of us watched a show on the History Channel about Noah. They said the Biblical account was likely an adaptation of the story of the 'Epic of Gilgamesh', which is a story of a man that was inspired by a dream that God was going to send a flood to destroy the wicked, to build a large boat, put animals on it and survive the flood. The show theorized that perhaps there was a local flood, not a global flood, and that Gilgamesh was either a real person or based on a real person. The 'Epic of Gilgamesh' was found on clay tablets in Iraq in 1853.
It's relatively easy to accept the story of Noah if you don't think about the scientific problems involved. Many people still believe the story of Noah. However, when these same people are then given the vast amount of logistical, geological, zoological and environmental scientific impossibilities surrounding the story, many of these same people then start accepting the possibility that perhaps this is just a parable told to teach a lesson or based on a real man's story of survival during a local, ancient flood. It certainly seems more likely.
Perhaps Adam and Eve existed. Some of us accept the possibility that evolution and the first parents of Genesis co-existed. Maybe God waited until the earth, its animals and environment were ready before he created modern-day man. However, the LDS doctrine leaves little room for these types of interpretations or theories.
Chinese history is recorded reliably since at least 3000 B.C. There is no mention of any of the things mentioned above such as a worldwide flood, confusion of languages, etc. How can these things have happened and totally escaped detection by the Chinese? Since the flood occurred around 2345 B.C. wouldn't the Chinese have been wiped out as well? And discoveries continue to be made that long pre-date Adam and Eve.
Established civilizations in Egypt and China were not impacted by claims of a global flood during the time of Noah's Ark. How could this be if there really was a global flood?
The following comes from the website: Did The Biblical Flood Happen?:
The Biblical flood did not happen. This is a falsifiable date. The Bible gives the date of the flood as beginning 2345 BCE and ending in 2344 BCE. If this were really the world-wide gig claimed by creationists then the civilizations of the world would all show a disruption in their history or at least take note of such an event, but does the rest of archeology/history corroborate the Biblical account===> NO!
[It has already been mentioned here that] The Biblical Flood story looks a lot like the Epic of Gilgamesh "The Chaldean Flood Tablets from the city of Ur in what is now Southern Iraq, describe how the Bablylonian God Ea had decided to eliminate humans and other land animals with a great flood which was to become 'the end of all flesh'".
For further reading click here
And what about the Egyptians?
Pyramid building started several hundred years before the supposed flood in approximately 2400 BC and lasted several hundred years after this. So if everyone was wiped out including the Egyptians, then which son of Noah went over to Egypt and finished building the last of the classic pyramids (essentially by himself as all the people were killed in the flood)? Likewise, Stonehenge was started in 2900 BC and finished in 1600 BC. So again one of the descendents of Noah had to wander up to England and take over the project after everyone was wiped out.
When I was growing up in the Church, we had a special fireside where the topic was the Age of the Earth. The theme of the presentation was that the earth was not nearly as old as scientists think. The basis for this was questioning the rates that certain things change which is one method used to determine how old things are.
He gave examples of continental drift. He said that is a fact, the continents drift apart from each other at a rate of so many inches per year. If you do the math, hundreds of millions of years ago, the continents were all together like scientists claim. But he asserted that the rate of continental drift may have been very different thousands of years ago. He said that maybe the continents drifted apart relatively quickly after Noah's Flood and that explains how the animals got to the various continents. He said then the rate changed from miles per day to inches per year. He said similar things about radiometric dating, claiming that the rates of decay changed over time. No one can prove or disprove his theory but few non-LDS scientists seem to support it:
The scientific consensus, supported by a 2006 statement by 68 national and international science academies, is that it is evidence-based fact derived from observations and experiments in multiple scientific disciplines that the universe has existed for around 13.7 billion years and that the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, with life first appearing at least 2.5 billion years ago.
Young Earth creationists believe that the Earth is "young", on the order of 6,000 to 10,000 years old. This depends on a literal interpretation of the internal chronology of the bible, and contrasts with the age of 4.54 billion years estimated by modern geology using geochronological methods including radiometric dating. While there is evidence for variability in decay rates, this occurs under particular circumstances in nature that are not relevant to radiometric dating. Further, radioisotope-derived ages have been verified many times using both independent and different radiometric methods, and by consistency with a number of non-radiometric dating methods. Scientists also point to serious flaws in the RATE study of radioisotope dating undertaken by a team of young Earth creationists
[Reference: Wikipedia as of 12/11/12]
Some apologists claim the Church doesn't officially teach that the earth is not really that old any more. Well, it was certainly taught in my ward as we had a special fireside in the chapel on the subject - and there's much history of this being taught by the modern prophets as given above.
We were all taught in the Church that the earth is thousands of years old and not billions as scientists tell us. Naturally people asked about the dinosaurs. The answer given to us in Gospel Doctrine Class is that God brought all the dinosaur bones from another planet to make this planet. That answers the question but makes little sense.
God could do anything of course. The theory cannot be totally disproved. But why would God do that - just to trick the scientists? And how about the 'living dinosaurs'? Off the coast of Madagascar about 60 years ago they started catching a species of fish called a Coelacanth that was thought to be extinct for 80 million years. God brought the Coelacanth's fossils over from another planet and live ones too - why?
And how about oil? God replaced the ground with oil, coal and other natural resources that take millions of years to make -- from another planet? Again, why not just let it develop naturally on this planet like He did on the planet they came from?
And what about the planet the fossils, oil and coal came from? Did they really come from another planet also and so on and so on - just to trick the scientists on each planet?
What sounds more plausible; that dinosaurs and plants lived on our planet, died millions of years ago and turned into oil and coal and petrified wood, etc. from age and intense volcanic pressure OR that dinosaurs and plants really only existed on another planet and God moved all of the dinosaur bones, coal, oil, petrified wood, footprints and fossilized dinosaur poop here just to trick everybody but the clever Mormon gospel doctrine teachers?