January 2012

Happy New Year everyone.

In reviewing the use of early biblical ideas, in addition to it being perfectly obvious these days that no such character as Adam ever existed – unless he was someone out of Africa many tens of thousands of years earlier than the Bible suggests – there are many other problems not faced either by Christianity in general or by the Mormon Church in particular. I want to mention just one.

The Bible, and Smith’s Book of Moses, both casually mention something entirely impossible which was transposed into the endowment ceremony. It originates from Genesis 3:19. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground…”

In Moses 5:1, Joseph Smith follows the same general idea:

1. And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began
to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread
by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him…

The Mormon temple endowment incorporated the same teaching right from the start – and it is still more or less the same today. Note that Smith even has God speaking in the first person. I can categorically state that if God really was speaking, then He is an absolute liar – harsh though that may sound.

Among the major problems that exist, if we were to accept God really did say some of the things He is recorded as saying to a ‘first man’ regardless of when he existed, is one so obvious that we tend to miss it entirely.

The reality of course is these were all Hebrew ideas that had been written, relatively speaking, not very long before Christ and thousands of years after the claimed events. They are just stories – legends, and incorporated into them were aspects familiar to the Hebrews but which were impossible in association with early (never mind the very first) humans.

For countless thousands of years, early humans did not tame fire. Grasses had not been cultivated in order to create cereals. Neither yeast or leaven was known – yet God tells the very first man that although he will sweat for it – he will eat bread. He did not explain how to cultivate the right grasses in order to obtain the first wheat kernels nor did he explain anything about fire or teach him how to cook. Early humans did not use fire, they did not have cereals and they certainly knew nothing of cooking. Hebrew concepts were used to make their ‘Adam and Eve’ story work. There have been countless other ‘creation’ stories; many equally as implausible and we readily reject them as mythical. In the case of the Bible myth, whatever God did say to a first human, if He ever said anything at all, it had nothing to do with ‘bread’ which was still tens of thousands of years away from first being invented.

In Mormon temples, God still tells Adam he will eat bread. Joseph Smith introduces ‘flocks’ far too early in his Book of Moses. Genesis talks of flocks and herds somewhat later. In the earliest days, when humans were still hunter–gatherers, livestock was wild and there were no flocks or herds or domesticated animals of any description. Dogs (originally the wolf) may have been the first animal to be domesticated.

The secret of discovering the truth is often to start with the known scientific and historical facts and then compare them with religious ideas – deleting the impossible aspects one by one and see what is left.

It is not much of anything in my experience.