Cwic Show- Genesis 1, Ben Spackman

"Genesis 1- Literally"
How do you read Genesis 1? Is it "literal"? Is it scientific? Is it history? LDS Scholar Ben Spackman and I talk about how you might look at the Creation Story. Understanding the intent of the author and as Ben calls it, the "Genre", can provide context to the story and a richer temple experience.

- The ancient Middle-East background of the Creation Story
- What is the author's intent for Genesis 1?
- Science vs. Genesis?
- There is no conflict between science and the Creation Story
- The history of the doctrinal interpretation of the Creation Story the origin of man.

Ben Spackman's website-

Some background on Ben-
Formal studies in Bible, ancient Near East, Semitic languages, science (pre-medical coursework), American Religious History, Reformation History, History of Science. Writing a PhD dissertation on the intellectual roots of LDS creation/evolution conflict in the 20th century. Taught (volunteer) Institute for a dozen years, taught a few summers at BYU (Religion and Hebrew). Presentations at the FAIRMormon Conference, Mormon History Association, Joseph Smith Papers, Education Week, Sperry Symposium, Maxwell Institute Theology Seminar, MI Summer Seminar, BYU New Testament Translation conferences, etc. Guest editing (with others) a special issue of BYU Studies on biological evolution, scripture, and LDS faith.


 Raw Transcript

 thank you
it's darwinism and atheism or it's faith
it's one or the other you can't pick
that's very much a false dichotomy all
so ben before we get into some of these
other issues here that i really want to
i wanted to kind of set the stage a
little bit and
get from you an idea of the the ancient
near eastern
uh uh background that
would have been where the creation story
may have come from or at least what the
people that were listening or reading
this would have understood
what what how does that influence what
we have in genesis one
okay so well um
the first thing i think to know would be
that there wasn't just one creation
story there were multiple creation
stories both among the israelites and
their neighbors the israelites probably
at least three creation stories one of
those would be
genesis 1 through about chapter 2 verse
4. one of them would be what we think of
as the adam and eve story
genesis 2 4 onwards and then one of them
is kind of scattered throughout the rest
of the old testament in
isaiah job psalms and actually shows up
pretty clearly
later in the new testament in the book
of revelation
among israel's neighbors they also had
multiple accounts and
they never tried to square them they
never tried to say well we've got
discount in this account
how do we make a mesh that doesn't seem
to have been an issue for them which is
a hint that they thought about these
differently than we do they approach
them differently than we do
but we don't have any explicit texts
from an israelite perspective here's
what's going on in genesis 1 and here's
how i make sense of it
so we have to we have to try to recover
that by
as you've asked what does the ancient
near east tell us about this
what would the israelites have
understood in here that isn't said
okay and so for genesis 1 there is an
awful lot
it's counter-intuitive to us but genesis
as it appears in the bible is actually
than genesis two through three
genesis two through three is older than
genesis one is there any reason
why we see genesis one first
uh probably because it was easier
to put them together in that order
editorially than the opposite order
sure i think uh but that's pure
supposition on my part and
uh genesis 1 draws on some of these
older israelite creation stories
there are some scholars who think that
genesis 1 is actually a rewrite or
update of genesis 2.
but it does draw on other creation texts
in the bible like uh psalm 74 and psalm
104 if i'm remembering correctly
genesis 1 as we have it and i say as we
it because it probably existed in oral
form first before being written down
and as these earlier uh i want to say
traditions that doesn't
mean anything about their validity or
truth or anything like that but um
and was put into the form we have it in
by israelite priests in babylon
as a counter response to the babylonian
theology that was being dumped on them
by uh being hauled off and stuck in
okay so let me clarify a couple things
here for some people so you're talking
about babylon this would be right at the
time of lehi he leaves and then
and then the the israelites are or those
in the kingdom of judah are taken away
king nebuchadnezzar by king
nebuchadnezzar into babylon and they're
there for an exile for about 70 years
right right
but what about anything being written
before that
uh in other words if you're we believe
based on bible scholarship that this
these these these renditions if you will
of genesis well that's that's
all i have to say as well but it's just
what we have today
right it's not produced out of nothing
in babylon
it's drawing upon israelite tradition
to um respond to pressing theological
i mean if you think about that that's
what we have in general conference when
there's some new
question all of a sudden general
authorities start looking back
into lds literature and previous general
conferences and they start pulling up
new quotes new stories focusing on new
to apply to this new problem and that's
what the israelite priests are doing in
babylon they're saying okay we've got to
this babylonian theology and we've got
to do it with these truths that god has
given us
and genesis 1 if you like is kind of
attract against
the babylonian theology that is becoming
very popular among the israelites
okay so so for an israelite in babylon
who hears genesis 1
he or she is going to pick up on a whole
bunch of anti-babylonian stuff
that we will not pick up on
one because they're there
there is uh
and maybe ben maybe even you have
you know israelites that are in babylon
that are being influenced by
right they're being influenced by the
babylonian religion
we know they were because when they go
back uh
i don't remember how many years later
100 years later only a third of them go
the rest of them are like nah we're fine
at babylon this is great
um okay and uh well
yeah so um
we talked previously before we started
recording about
uh that fireside i did at the dc
temple visitor center where i bring up
the example of
um star wars and the phantom edit
do you remember seeing that yes i do
okay that's that's kind of the thing i'm
talking about the israelites in babylon
they have that background of a new
militia to implicitly place genesis 1
and that's what they're comparing it to
and the problem is
most readers today have never even heard
of anumilish
let alone being familiar with it and of
course if they are they're familiar with
it in english
and genesis in english and so unless
you're reading
one of the explicit compare and
contrasts you simply
do not pick up on the points of
contrast that are intended to stand out
you know it's kind of like um you know
if you've ever been with a toddler
you're constantly trying to keep their
attention right and so you might point
and say look a dog
and the toddler stares at your finger
you're like
not my over there over there and so when
we read genesis and we get focused on
well how old is the earth it says six
days what does they mean we're kind of
like the toddler
focusing on the finger because the dog
is just not even in our peripheral
good analogy sure and so one of the
points i make elsewhere is that
for almost 2000 years
nobody could really understand genesis
the way the israelites did at the time
simply because that information was lost
to us that contextual information was
lost to us
we had to rediscover the babylonian
material in the late 1800s
have it translated and have a hundred
years of scholars
looking at it carefully before we really
started to come to a mature view of
what's the relationship between these
things because when the babylonian
material was first discovered
by german protestants
especially germans were not particularly
friendly to the old testament or jews
late 1800s early 1900s protestants in
particular were not old testament
and so they they saw this stuff they saw
deep similarities between when they said
oh well this is what the jews stole
genesis from
it was very anti-semitic and so it's
decades to move beyond that to a less
biased more mature
less anti-semitic view of what is the
relationship between these texts what
were they doing
which is kind of i want to give the
impression that russia is smith
because he just completely delves into
the old testament
yeah on on restoration doctrine but
so uh to give an example
of one of these contrasts and and i
think this is one of the ones i use in
that dc
fireside as well
and in the babylonian materials you have
these tears of gods
deities lesser deities supernatural
beings whatever you want to call them
and there's a there's a tear of slave
who exist solely to serve these high
and the place of humans in existence is
below the slave gods
it is
what it says implicitly about humans in
creation is that
we're garbage we have no point life is
terrible and then you die
uh it's it's not really optimistic
and so if that's what you're getting out
of babylonian stuff while you're an
israelite living in babylon and remember
that they're struggling why did god
allow his temple to be destroyed why
have we been dragged out of the holy
why have our lives been uprooted and
then you hear genesis 1
in which a single god not a multiplicity
of gods arguing with each other
creates the earth and at the end of
every day it's good day two
it's good day three it's good day four
it's good and when humans get created on
day six
the creation of humans is not just good
it's very good and so implicitly
what genesis teaches about the place of
humans in creation is that creation is
and humanity is very good not that we
below the slave mud gods and then we die
that's a very optimistic very positive
doctrine and it's one of the things that
these israelite priests are trying to
one of the other ones of course is
you know in babylon you have these
battles between gods and
the main god could die and be replaced
and they are
kind of human and they are whimsical in
the sense that they do things to destroy
people at random
and by contrast that is not what the god
of genesis 1 the god of the israelites
is portrayed as
so there are there are a number of
details in genesis 1
that really stand out and make sense and
contra distinction to what the
israelites are getting in babylon
okay but if you're not aware of the
babylonian backdrop you don't get any of
okay and you know actually a lot of
religions and even going to greek and
roman mythology it's the same kind of
idea you have these
these these chaotic uh
gods that succumb to the same kind of
human passions that we do
and we're all victims so yeah
yeah okay so that that kind of is where
this is
you so you're what you're saying here
then is that when we look at genesis and
the creation story specifically
we are we are looking at something that
is intentionally
contrasted against the babylonian
creation story absolutely would that
would that is there ways where that is
going to dilute doctrine then
uh uh that's an interesting question
uh my first impulse is to say no because
it depends what doctrine you think
is being taught sure
and uh if you think the doctrine that
genesis 1 is trying to teach is again
about the age of the earth or evolution
or things like that
then you might say well yes this dilutes
but what i am trying to present is
i would argue very strongly is a literal
reading of genesis
it is what genesis intends to be taught
and if genesis has no intention of
saying anything definite about the age
of the earth or evolution or things like
then to look at those as the doctrines
that are in there that i'm deluding
is actually resting scripture
yeah i guess my question would be on
things like you know joseph smith
goes in and he pulls out of this you
know in in in the king fallen
discourse for example he he talks about
elohim being a plurality
right right and things like that where
you know i'm just wondering if there
perhaps some some places that's been
looked at in in what we have now is
where we can see maybe there were some
changes are you familiar with margaret
uh yes okay so she goes into that kind
of thing a lot right where she'll go
through when she can show
that through the the uh aramaic now type
script of hebrew
where you can make points and and and
small little changes and
so that's a big thing of what she does
and talks about how things have been
changed through
bible tradition i take barker with a
heavy grain of salt
mostly because on one or two occasions
where i have checked her claims they
what she says about the text is not
accurate okay
so she's she's a very interesting and
provocative scholar who's worth reading
but uh my response in the past has been
i hope she's right but she hasn't done
the work to support her conclusions
okay well she's stretching a bit she
does stretch i think i think what she
just on a little tangent here because
from i've read most everything she's
and it seems to me that you know
being lds obviously it seems to me like
she's on the right track
but um she it's kind of like a
uh um you know she's throwing all the
spaghetti up against the refrigerator
yeah seeing what sticks sometimes yeah
because a lot of what she does at least
in biblical scholarship is kind of new
but um okay so this this ancient
background you know you brought up
literal things that are literally now
have said in the past that you want why
don't you
explain to us what you mean by literal a
literal reading
so most often today when people say a
literal reading
by that they mean kind of a plain
language reading
this is i look at the english and this
is what it says
and claims that it means something else
avoiding the obvious and clear meaning
of the text
and that's a literal interpretation and
the problem with that
is well there are several problems with
the main problem has to do with the idea
that a plain text context-free
english reading of the text is
sufficient to know
what the text means and that that is a
literal reading
so let me let me go with this backwards
so if you go back to augustine in the
fourth century
he writes multiple volumes on the book
of genesis that he calls
a literal interpretation of genesis and
he means when he says that
and it's in latin it's actually where we
get the word literature from atleti rom
what he means is not face value what he
means is
according to the author's intention
and if you read catholic and jewish and
protestant scholars today
the meaning of literal for the last two
thousand years of scriptural
has meant according to the author's
that is uh a literal reading of a poem
requires recognizing that it's a poem
the content of the poem may or may not
be about a historical event
right you know in flanders field
is a poem but it's about world war one
right and a literal reading of
uh fiction or historical fiction
must recognize that it is fiction or
historical fiction
and the thing about historical fiction
is i can write historical fiction about
abraham lincoln abraham lincoln's a real
but if i recognize that it's historical
fiction i'm also going to say okay
he didn't actually do these things in
this book so
uh this is basically genre
we have to recognize what kind of thing
a text or a movie
is in order to understand its
information correctly
when you say this is this is a genre
what are you what are you referring
referring to uh
well so when i'm saying things like poem
or historical fiction those are genres
okay and the problem is that latter-day
saints have often approached scripture
with this false dichotomy of literal or
figurative or literal means it's a
and happened this way and figurative
uh you know it's a metaphor it's an
and the problem is that that kind of
dichotomy simply doesn't map
onto scripture any more than it maps
netflix or restaurants or books or
movies i mean
is star wars literal or figurative
well based on what you're saying it's
i i have asked that question before in
gospel doctrine classes and usually
people are kind of puzzled
one well it's science fiction i say okay
you recognize
that that kind of false dichotomy simply
doesn't apply
you have to know what kind of thing it
and so if we are going to engage in a
literal reading of genesis
that means we have to engage in some
work to figure out what kind of genre is
what does it mean in context what did
the author
intend to say how did they intend to
and that's not the kind of thing that
comes through in a translated
context-free surface reading
and if if that seems odd to you think
about other
specialized texts if you take
you know joe schmoe who might be very
intelligent and well-read but give him
the constitution and say what does
uh i'm not a constitutional guy by any
means but
you know what does amendment 15 mean
write me up 40 pages on it if he doesn't
know that the historical context
and all that other stuff he may be able
to expound on it a little
but he's generally not going to capture
the intent of the constitutional authors
the historical things that gave rose to
the need for that amendment
how it was passed a literal reading
requires expertise
okay he's in history and ancient
languages and things like that
so when i say i am giving a literal
interpretation of genesis
i honestly believe i am giving a literal
interpretation of genesis as literal as
it can be
that doesn't mean i think genesis is
history or science it's
very clearly not but i'm not i'm not uh
if you read young earth creationists
their claim is that you know genesis
teaches young earth creationism
and anything else any other
is just trying to avoid what the text
very clearly says
and i say well no it doesn't very
clearly say that
thank you i'll take my hebrew and my
history of interpretation and
that's not what it means yeah so it's
not the intent in other words now you
said certain
genres what genre then is genesis 1
uh well i do not know that we have a
modern genre that maps perfectly onto
what the israelites might have
categorized it as
and when i teach institute and i have
time to you know say i have an hour with
the class they know me they've read some
of my stuff
i have time to set up certain frameworks
there is a greek word that refers to
stories that make sense of the past
sorry they not that they make sense of
the past they make sense of the present
without any regard for whether it
actually happened or not
and that word has come into english as
now the problem with modern usage of
myth is we say oh that's a myth meaning
that's false that never happened that's
not the way things work
but uh there are historians and
philosophers of science and biblical
scholars who say well
in this sense science is a myth
because what science does is it tries to
come up with
stories that fit the facts as we
understand them
to explain what we see in the world
around us
that is a myth and so genesis 1
is looking at the world around the
as it's been destroyed by the
babylonians and hauled off
they are trying to make sense of that in
light of the facts as they understand
and to teach certain things i've already
kind of been going over
so when i say genesis is a myth
it has very narrow and technical meaning
that if i just got up in sunday school
and said genesis is a myth
you know i'd get mobbed sure sure but
when i have time to set it up correctly
it's it's not a problem um
story is kind of the same way if we say
story because you know if you set your
kids down and say let me tell you a
it might be about grandpa on his mission
or it might be
uh you know aesop's fables story doesn't
mean anything either way
that's usually the term i use it i i
guess i haven't found a better one i
usually say i usually say the creation
and the garden of eden story yeah
because that leaves everything open for
yeah and for whoever i'm talking to so
you've mentioned a couple of words here
that for some people they're they're
going to
you know wait a minute what are you
saying ben you know first of all you
said historical fiction
right right so with historical fiction
may say right you've got a spectrum of
of believers
right where some are going to say okay
what we usually use as the term literal
right which i'll say face value as you
as you
said yeah a lot of people are going to
take genesis 1 as
and and the garden of eden story at face
that and they're going to interpret it
in the way that we would do it today in
a modern mostly western
scientific environment yeah
post-enlightenment post-science
enlightenment absolutely and so
on the other end of the spectrum you
might have people that are atheist
and or or are hey the entire bible
is written as a myth right the
the entire bible is written as uh
a a moral type of
fake history that is uh not
rooted in anything real at all it's just
something that can be put together as
as a moral guide right so
when you say historical fiction and use
the word
myth yeah what would you say
to those people on those two ends of the
spectrum about that
so let's start on the on the atheist
spectrum um uh
let's go with dawkins right okay
richard dawkins says we know the bible
is false
because the things in genesis don't
match science
excuse me in some ways he's committing
the same fallacy that young earth
creationists are
he's assuming that for genesis to be
true it has to be scientific and it has
to be accurate
and those are those are recent
assumptions of the last
couple hundred years and he's a
scientist that's a natural thing for him
yeah um
on the on the believing end
um some of this is just deep familiarity
with scripture
and the way history gets written
one of my email sign offs is from a
jewish professor of hebrew and
comparative literature at berkeley
named robert alter he says history
is much closer to fiction than we have
been inclined to assume
a lot of people assume that history is a
cold collection of facts
and things as they really were
and the reality is that history
writing which is called historiography
you can study how history is written
that's called historiography
has often changed a lot and it does have
a lot more
in connection with fiction than we would
like to think
and here's what i mean if i am writing
about uh you know my dad's mission
50 years ago i have a very limited
amount of data
available to me right
and so if i am actually going to tell a
story to my kids
well i don't have kids i'm this is a for
if i'm going to tell a story to my kids
about my dad's mission and i have very
limited data
there are some connecting details that i
have to fill in
i will fill them in based on well it was
50 years ago so he probably doesn't have
an iphone and he's in france so they're
probably speaking french
they're going to be likely details
they're going to be
uh what's the term for this
i can only remember the french term
which is strange
historians have a term for this
which is basically how realistic is it
how likely is it
um you know if if in my dad's mission
he encounters uh harry potter
right that's that's not going to be a
realistic detail of his mission in
france 50 years ago
obviously not but the fact that i have
fill in those details makes it
slightly fictional right and in fact
um john s tanner who is both a former
byu professor
and he used to be i believe the general
sunday school board president
has an article talking about this in
which he says fiction comes from latin
fiction which means something
shaped something made and the fact that
always have a limited amount of data
means that they are always taking that
and they are arranging it they are
filling in the gaps according to what
they think is most realistic
now that's modern history go back to the
israelite writers where they don't have
that idea of history
and they are inclined to um
fill in more gaps to make certain things
more obvious
and this becomes very clear when we are
reading the parallel stories between
say samuel and kings and chronicles
which repeats
chronicles starts over with adam and
brings it up to
king saul and david and things and then
it tells some of these stories different
to make different points some of the
stories it leaves out entirely
and then of course in these stories you
conversations between historical
so you know david says to saul and then
saul says back to david
they did not have a scribe with them
taking down hebrew shorthand
sure almost all bible scholars including
the very conservative evangelical ones
almost all conversations in scripture
have been fictionalized
simply because that is the nature of
i mean how well so in the book of mormon
think about this
how do we have um abinadize
preaching which is presented in
quotation marks
who gives that to us well that would
have to be alma and how did alma get
well he's got a really really really
good memory yeah he was present
as a hostile witness right and then had
to flee
and while he is under pressure weeks
maybe months later he writes down a
binary sermon
now if i take um
uh i'm trying to think of a good analogy
but let's say i take
uh a teenager who's not excited about
and uh the bishop gives a talk
and two months later i go to that
teenager and i say
i want you to write down word for word
the bishop's talk
it's either going to be really really
or a lot of it is going to be the
teenager filling in those gaps and
saying well
this is the general gist that i remember
him doing
but it's going to be presented as if it
were a transcript verbatim
and so when i say historical fiction
these stories that we read in things
like samuel and
and chronicles and things by necessity
are going to be fictionalized to some
extent because they have to be that's
the nature of history writing
3 000 years ago in israel sure that's
just the way things are
well you'd also have to consider that
that uh
you know most people are illiterate and
is this written differently so that
people can remember it better
is there is there poetry is there you
know what what's used here as far as
literary devices
there's there's a reason why the major
prophets and the minor prophets
um you know isaiah jeremiah ezekiel and
then the 12 minor prophets
amos and so on why they are in poetry
and that is because they were delivered
they were spoken and people heard them
the hebrew poetry is done in such a way
that it helps things stick in your mind
there is repetition that parallelism you
a and then a prime listen to the words
of your father
do not ignore the sayings of your mother
is what i mean
so every idea you get twice repeated in
a slightly different way
those things were meant to help stick in
people's heads because
most people couldn't read most people
couldn't write
it had no point it was a very
specialized skill that didn't have a lot
of application
back then right but those stories in
kings and chronicles
and samuel tend to have to do with the
kings who would have had
royal scribes to preserve royal records
and things like that
and that's where we get a lot more of
really the historical portion of the old
where you have that that the scribes
available back to genesis real quick
what what then is
if we call this myth if we call this
historical fiction
what is the point then of genesis 1 if
we're not talking about what we would
think of in a
a modern scientific mind if we're not
talking about the
how the how how we came to be and how
the earth came to be
well i think the point for the
israelites would have been huge
and that primary point is not so much
for us
there are very few at least western
latter-day saints
who are confronted on a daily basis with
the overwhelming logic for
that is if one of the main points of
genesis 1 is
who actually created the world and is
creation good
and what is our place in it for
that was a chaotic polytheist idea
and we know that polytheism was
extremely attractive to israelites
because it had a very strong cultural
and that cultural logic no longer holds
for us let me give an analogy
and i've i've used this somewhere else
so it might be familiar but
you know imagine you move into a new
apartment or a new condo
and you meet the landlord you say okay
well you know we're new in town
who's our electrical company that we
need to set up with he says oh that's me
ah okay okay what about
water who do we turn on water and gas
with oh i do the water and gas too
i'm that company okay
garbage recycling i'll see you yep
that's also me
uh internet oh i i do the internet
for ancient people uh
egyptians babylonians syrians sumerians
hittites pretty much everyone we know of
in the ancient near east israelites
there were different tiers of gods and
what we would think of as
nature each of those things was
overseen or embodied by a particular
uh fertility the sun rising crops
uh health war there were all these
deities that did these things and the
idea that only one deity
would be in control of all of this was
just as ludicrous to them
as this would be for us to move into a
new condo and be like really
one guy is doing the electricity and the
plumbing and the recycling and the
internet and the gas and is my
no that that makes no sense at all
especially for the israelites because
they had just seen a proxy theology war
that is israel was the holy land
jerusalem was the holy city in the holy
the temple mount was the holiest part of
jerusalem and the temple was
the holiest bit and when
different groups went to war with each
other it was seen
as their deities are fighting
and whoever wins that's because their
deity is the greater deity
so the fact that jerusalem has just been
destroyed the temple has been destroyed
here we are in babylon being taught this
polytheistic stuff
it looks like jehovah's not really a god
at all it's the babylonian polytheism
stuff and genesis 1 is written
very very strongly to counter that
but we do not live in a polytheist
society today
and so that's not a very
compelling point to us that's not
something we feel like we need to hear
in church and have reinforced regularly
every sunday
right right because it's not like it's
not like our teenage kids come home from
school and they're like
you know i think i believe in six or 12
different gods now not just one
you know there's there's the one
controlling the sun and there's the one
controlling the weather
i don't believe in this one god thing
those are not the concerns our teenage
kids bring home to their parents
but the general point that creation is
that the god of heaven is in control and
that humanity has
a definite and important place within
those are things that can still be very
relevant to latter-day saints
and non-latter-day saints today even if
the specific babylonian anti-polytheist
isn't particularly relevant to us okay
and what we have to remember dnc 124
teaches this
god speaks to our need and what that
means is
if our need in 2020 is different than
the need in 27 20
people who are reading general
conference from 2020 will go
i don't understand this why are they
even talking about this why is this an
and the needs of the israelites at that
time god spoke to those needs
those are no longer our needs okay so
here's one thing though i would ask on
it is at the core today
of our temple worship right so as far as
today why why would we why would we have
the creation story in the temple
uh because of what i call the principle
of adaptation
um that is and this will
date me a little but you know uh i think
you'll get it i don't know about younger
listeners but older ones will
in some sense god is like macgyver or
the a-team
and that he takes what is available
and re-adapts it for a new purpose he
transforms it
um i don't think
genesis as given to the israelites in
has the same meaning as the temple
intends it for us
because it has been reappropriated and
for a new and much more relevant purpose
god has macgyvered it if you like
um which is not to say it's totally
unconnected because it's not
we know that among the israelites
genesis 1
was recited during particular animal
sacrifices in the temple
in the israelite temple
and i think setting adaptation
aside or maybe expanding on what purpose
it serves
i think what we get in the creation is
a narrative context
that is a macrocosm that is we start
pre-mortal existence pre-creation
and that narrative takes us through
creation through life
all the way up through death and
re-entering god's presence
and i think it is very natural
for a inspired
temple ceremony that needed that
to bring in the creation narrative from
the bible especially since it was echoed
in moses and abraham
and i've i've talked about those things
at length elsewhere um
but i i think if we go to the temple
expecting to be taught new and secret
facts about history and science
in creation or at least
uh things of that nature
i think we're really looking beyond the
mark we're looking in the wrong
direction we're looking at the finger
instead of what the fingers pointing at
um now it seems to me that that that
so for example here here's how i kind of
see this now can we we're
jumping a little bit ahead but sure sure
it's it wouldn't be surprising this is
you know supposition to some degree or
well to a large degree on my
oh this is all supposition yeah but but
but you've got moses who's at the head
of a dispensation right
you've got abraham who's at the head of
a dispensation
and you've got joseph smith who's at the
head of a dispensation
what is the purpose of writing these
things over and over again
and and showing that this is there see
to me
i it makes me feel like it is applicable
right it makes me feel like for whatever
that that we don't maybe quite grasp all
the time
or ever this is core to our religion
and and and when a new dispensation is
brought in
and again as i've said to you previously
there's a vision that's given
and and that vision is of the creation
and when i say
the vision of the creation when i when i
i look at this like this is a vision
and and this is something that is
written down from a vision
it's not written down to say hey i want
to try and explain everything
although it does to some degree in some
and lays down some eternal truths but to
it is simply temple liturgy right it is
it is
moses goes up on sinai he has the vision
uh some writings even a apocalyptic or
apocryphal writings have him up there
seven days
right right where he's up seven days and
okay so each one of these days he's up
there he has a new part of this vision
for seven days but you know regardless
it's a vision that i think he sees
right and then and then abraham we're
where before he ever gets into all the
kolob stuff
he's looking through the urine and thumb
and what you end up with kolob and i'm
going to
poorly pronounce it but obelish or
whatever that is in the coca-bm and all
those right
they are representations of the cosmos
and to me a representation of priesthood
and of hierarchy okay
and that's a lot of what you get at the
very beginning
of the temple experience right
although that's been removed quite a bit
now but
but you know that that whole idea of
hierarchy is just
hammered in over and over again to the
point where you're like
why are we doing this over and over
again you know and yet
that's kind of what you get with that
and he's in a vision when he sees that
he's not writing down
as clark or others have written down in
some of their writings is it you know
some type of a a a
a non-heliocentric type of uh uh
you know a cosmos he's not doing that
he's he's writing down a vision
i think he's writing down what he sees
and this is symbolic it's the same idea
of what we get with
lehi's vision right when i i don't think
members of the church and i use that
because everyone's familiar with it
believe that there is actually a place a
geographic place
where people are grabbing onto a rod
and and walking up to a tree of life and
on the other side of this big gulf
there is a big and spacious building
this looks right right
and yet there are real characters
real people in it right there lehi
layman let me only sam right they're
real people that are in it
and but it's a vision and
to me it's a temple vision i see that as
the chiasmus of genesis 1
and and the in the garden of eden story
in other words it's the second half
so if i go to uh you know second nephi 2
yeah where there's a lot of lehi's
verbiage on
on the creation he says um
adam fell right so let's count that as
an a to a b
okay that men might be and move it over
to b again here
and men are that they might have joy and
move that back up to an a to me
the a to the b is the garden of eden
it's the fall okay and then the chiasmus
on that the second half of that coming
back up is lehigh's vision
where where he's going from well you've
but now you're moving back to the tree
of life instead of
in the garden of eden where you're
throwing in the uh
the cherubim there to stop them right
and and so
you have a vision there that is revealed
and why would that need to be revealed
and to me it seems like it's
this is because this is the core this is
everything and this is what we're going
to do in the temple
and if you look at the psalms and you
have all of these
uh references to creation and to
what i would say is a drama um
a a definite drama that it you know
probably initiates with a procession
ends up at the at the uh at the temple
everybody participates you know kind of
like with king benjamin's speech
and and so it's taken from a vision
into a drama and
and that is something that allows
everybody to participate
and to remember because they're not
taking home leaflets and necessarily
they're not
they don't have the book at home and
in the beginning is more of something
like the opening of the curtain
okay right and so uh
what i'm trying to get at is i i just
seems to me
that in some way in each dispensation
the same thing becomes very applicable
even in ours i think god has to speak to
different generations in different ways
and that may mean reappropriating things
from the past and teaching different
things with it or that may mean
something new entirely
i do like thinking of the temple
as liturgy i i mean
it's it's obviously liturgy but i say
that because uh
most latter-day saints are not familiar
with the term liturgy right vaguely
familiar with ritual
but we we have a tradition of not liking
that because that's that's a catholic
thing and we don't do that until we go
to the temple then all of a sudden it's
like oh wait we do that
okay huh we do that we do that
um but i think
as you're kind of getting at once we
start thinking about the temple in terms
of liturgy and ritual
what is that designed to teach what is
it designed to accomplish
and those things are pretty deeply
embedded in the old testament
although not so much in genesis genesis
is kind of the clothing
that that wears i think
but if
speaking to latter-day saints if i were
asked to try to characterize the temple
briefly i would say
that the purpose of the temple is to
provide a narrative context for us to
covenants as priests and kings which
uh power and holiness united
and then those covenants enable us to do
a ritual ascent into god's presence
and it's a macrocosm that starts in the
you know a long time ago in a galaxy far
far away
before creation and takes us all the way
past the moment of death even though
that's not explicit in the temple
that's the purpose of the temple
covenants that turn us into priests and
kings queens and priestesses
the things we see in there are a
narrative context
by which i mean we could go in and just
make covenants
baptism has no narrative context
you go in you get baptized there's a
talk you've done we could do that in the
but the temple uses the old testament to
provide a narrative context
to give both
past it brings
meaning from the past and points a path
to the future
for what those covenants can do
uh gives us that narrative and i think i
think there are things in the temple
itself that tell us uh it's not a
it's not a reenactment per se
but for me at least the first time i
went to the temple
i was a little confused when i was like
oh there's a movie oh the movie ends but
we're not done
and i guess part of the issue is i
thought i was watching something happen
and the reality in the temple is we are
in the drama you know they they break
the fourth wall
we are as adam and eve they are us
and so that narrative that we're
watching that's
us on the screen and the narrative
continues even though the
the movie is over yeah i think there's
one thing that in just in my discussions
with other people of their temple goers
is that one thing that you said is the
most important thing for
for many people to understand is that
you are not watching history
yeah right yeah that this takes
everything from genesis one and two you
know and it's
it's like this is not this is not about
the history of the world and its
creation and about the history of man
that doesn't mean elements of that
aren't in there and that doesn't mean
the true characters aren't in there just
like lehigh and soraya in
in in lehi's vision
in his dream yeah but it's you you
know you're the one in lehi's vision
that needs to grab onto the iron rod
and in that sense uh
you know the story is told in president
hinckley's biography
by sherry dew about how in the 1950s
they were building the church in
switzerland the first one outside the
and they had this technical problem of
how do we do this to people
in a dozen languages and it was
president hinckley who came up with the
idea of doing film with different
right but i think in some sense
having the temple presented to us with a
especially now a film with music and
special effects
misleads us into thinking i'm watching a
movie and moreover
i'm watching a documentary yes as
opposed to
i am participating in a ritual drama i
think without a film
if you go to a live session at salt lake
or i think they're live at st
george too still aren't they if you go
to a live session
it feels much more participatory
than yes uh the typical presentation
but the typical presentation allows
people to be in there taking it in in
spanish and tagalog and french and
english all at the same time so
everything has advantages and
disadvantages there well even the recent
changes are probably something along the
same lines as far as
being able to get out to different
languages and cultures etc
but i was going to bring up also genesis
one then to me i mean if you look at
that without a movie
it's a drama right i see it as i see
that yeah
and i think that we make the mistake
that when we see in the beginning
in genesis one 1 at the very beginning
that this is supposed to be the
of everything the creation the beginning
of existence
whatever and and yet if we
realize beginning that translation is
highly contested among biblical scholars
yeah uh that that a number of bibles and
biblical scholars myself included prefer
the translation
uh something along the lines of when god
began creating the heavens and the earth
which is a merism for everything when
god began creating everything
the earth was formless and void it was
uh what are the terms that they use
formless and void in hebrew
is a tohu vavohu
they still use that in in israel today
oh that's right
you know if there's something really all
messed up
it's bohu it's higgledy piggledy yeah um
some translators have tried to capture
that with uh like wild and waste
it's not so much that it's empty it's
that it's purposeless
it's it's formless it hasn't been given
its uh
its point yet right trying heavily on
john walton and his ideas about
functional creation
i'll have to look into i'm not sure if
you're familiar with that but no i'm not
um john walton's series on the lost
world of genesis 1 and the lost world of
genesis 2 through 3.
he's an evangelical bible scholar uh i
reviewed his book for the mormon
a couple years ago okay but his his take
on genesis 1 is very interesting and
also highly disputed
where he says the problem for modern
people is we think of creation
in terms of physicality something
exists when you can touch it and poke at
it and move it around
and he says there's good evidence from
the bible and the ancient near east that
for these ancient people existence
was not physicality but having a purpose
and a name and so you could actually go
touch something that didn't
exist like the desert the desert is
described in jeremiah as
bohu or tohu rather because
it you can't grow anything there it
doesn't do anything it's just
it's functional so from wall's
perspective when god creates it doesn't
have anything to do with matter it has
to do with
um use the analogy of programming a
your computer's already there it's built
god is giving it the software and
turning it on
he calls this functional creation as
opposed to
physical creation so does he believe in
creation like nilo
uh he does but he doesn't get it out of
genesis one
okay comes out of uh proverbs and psalms
some other things okay well let me move
here and move us along though because i
want to make sure we get into some of
this other stuff that you that you've
really focused on in your research and
and and uh and study here and that is
that is uh science versus genesis
right and and looking at that throughout
the history of the church
yeah right so going back to the time of
joseph smith i don't know if you've
closely at that or you know as you go
through time in the church and you have
you know parley p pratt and and uh
coming up to tallmadge and and bh
roberts and
richards and and then you get into
something maybe a little different right
where you start going into joseph f
smith and bruce r mcconkey
and fielding smith yeah
uh boy how much time do we have i would
not yeah
so if we if we just encapsulate that a
little bit you have mostly people that
have a scientific background starting
off more in the 19th to early 20th
right then you have those that aren't
that start to say just a few different
things and by the way those books people
don't realize sometimes
you know mormon doctrine doctrines of
questions to gospel uh what does that
answer answers to gospel
questions yeah questions i don't know
about the latter on that but but most of
those were not
written by prophets so to speak they
were not prophets when they wrote them
at least in fact i think mormon doctrine
i don't think bruce r mcconkie
and that was published yeah and
obviously disputed among the brethren
too right but uh
but where just you know just we don't
need to go into all of their
their their uh uh what they've taught or
written about but can you give us a kind
of a basic idea of the narrative
of of science versus uh uh optionalism
we'll call it or face value
so i'm i'm much much stronger there with
20th century lds history than the last
okay let's go there let's go there
because that's what my dissertation is
pretty much every latter-day saint
interpreter i have ever read
late 19th century up to the present
makes an assumption which is
unjustifiable and was culturally
inherited and this assumption is called
concordism that is this assumption
assumes that what genesis is trying to
is facts of a scientific nature now it
might be doing it
in metaphorical or poetic terms
but it's facts about natural history
and the physical origins and history of
the earth
um and i have uh i have a video
i did at uvu a couple years ago kind of
about the history of concordism and
where it came from and why it's rejected
by a lot of bible scholars today
but pretty much all latter-day saint
have gone with the idea that genesis and
moses and abraham
and so on are speaking about the
physical origins of the earth
in the early 20th century you do have
people like
witso and talmage and joseph f merrell
who's less well-known
who was also a formerly trained
who see things differently than joseph
fielding smith
they do not share all of his assumptions
although they do share concordism with
and they spend a lot of time arguing a
good bit of it in public
joseph feeling smith thinks that
scripture is very clear
that the earth is young
that there is no death anywhere before
6000 years ago
and in 1931 the first presidency
formally says we have no doctrine
on death before six thousand years ago
or death before the fall
we have no doctrine pro or con on the
existence of humans or humanoids before
but they they are all reading scripture
a little bit differently
because they have slightly different
lenses interpretive assumptions that
they're reading it through
and um jamesy talmage
and bh roberts who was not a trained
scientist but also read differently than
joseph fielding smith
they both die in 1932 and
witso and merrill the two scientific
died in 1952. um
talmage dyson 33 not 32 i'm getting my
date slightly wrong but
and then in 1954 so two years after the
fielding publishes his man his origin
and destiny
which was a manuscript he had written
decades earlier
and finally did not have opposition in
the quorum and he publishes it
and in that book he takes a very hard
perspective that
the testimony of the prophets are
absolute facts
because when god speaks to a prophet
that prophet is basically getting
a view from the divine encyclopedia
and so he read scripture as if it were
science and he made some small
concessions on the side too well of
course there are metaphors and parables
but he didn't really believe in genres
didn't really accept
let me rephrase he argued very strongly
assumed very strongly that plain reading
was all that was necessary
we didn't need languages we didn't need
history as long as the language was
sufficiently clear that's all we needed
to interpret scripture
and on that basis genesis and other lds
scripture required
honest believers to accept a young earth
the death of dinosaurs in the flood and
a whole bunch of other things like that
well from the 50s
through the 80s smith's views are very
very influential
they're amplified by his son-in-law
mcconkey and because of some changes
around that time that's when correlation
really comes
into being and starts kind of
standardizing church stuff
their views become de facto orthodoxy
about still a little bit in that aren't
we i mean i mean if someone goes out and
starts to really say okay i'm going to
start really studying the gospel
now mormon doctrine not so much anymore
because it's out of print
but their assumptions
dominate the church even though they're
not attached to their names
they dominate the way we teach kids
scripture and seminary the way we write
our manuals about scripture
they are pervasive it's what's repeated
yeah um
and so well let me cut out a lot
so when i make my presentations
about interpreting scripture and what
genesis means and evolution
i have been somewhat surprised to find
as warmer reception as i have
among professional seminary institute
uh byu professors and so on
um it it there is also a good bit of
pushback from very conservative or
traditional people
who tend to hold to kind of simple
assumptions about well god speaks to a
prophet so it's true so it's fact so why
are you rejecting joseph fielding smith
and i say read the history the first
presidency rejected joseph fielding
talmadge and witso and apostles rejected
joseph fielding smith on these things
there is no settled doctrine on this
there is tradition that's been really
strong since the 50s
i have been very surprised at how well
people respond
because it helps them make sense of
things it helps them make sense of
genesis and the temple it helps them
make sense of the history and it
means that evolution and science in
general don't become
nearly as much of a stumbling block as
uh smith and mcconkey and some others
thought they were
so i i am not uh i spend a lot of time
talking about evolution in church
not because i am a great defender of
evolution i don't really study evolution
as a scientific topic
i studied as a theological and
historical topic that is connected to
and uh inerrantist assumptions people
make about prophets
so i'm mostly trying to remove evolution
and science as a stumbling block to
as opposed to arguing that they must be
true and you must believe them because
this is what science says
and would you say that that that
tradition that is
more fielding in mcconkey it's also
couched in a broader
western especially well just christian
uh uh tradition which is which is
you know it's darwinism on one side and
and it's
the bible on the other yeah it's
darwinism and atheism or it's faith it's
one or the other you can't
pick both uh that's that's very much a
false dichotomy
there are numerous extremely devout
christians who are also
highly uh lauded scientists
i mean the head of the national
institute of health right now whose name
escapes me but he's the guy who mapped
the human genome
he's an evangelical christian who has
written books about darwin and evolution
it is possible to square these things
our tradition has not shown us how
that's possible
and i'm i'm trying to recover some of
that now how did this
happen very briefly uh
and i'm giving a very very simplified
version here but among other things
joseph fielding smith
read christian fundamentalists uh
seventh-day adventists way back in 1926
he's already pushing some
of these books by christian
fundamentalists and seventh-day
adventists on his fellow apostles
especially people like witso and talmage
and we have letters back and forth
between them where they are reading
these books they're saying
it was a good defense of the christian
faith and that's wonderful
but their claims about geology and
are not well founded
one of the ways that these guys differed
in what is called the demarcation
problem which is a thing in history and
philosophy of science that is how do you
how do you distinguish science from
the simple answer is well science is
but oftentimes you can't know that until
well after the fact
so how do you distinguish well talmadge
and witso were actually trained in
so they had you know talmage in geology
and chemistry
uh witso in chemistry and they had
enough of a foot in that world that they
were willing to take those things that
data fairly seriously for joseph
fielding smith
who did not have the equivalent of a
high school education
he says this very bluntly we can
recognize true science
because it agrees with what the bible
and i would insert we can recognize true
science because it agrees with
my interpretation of what scripture says
because scripture
is a science textbook revealed by god
that was what he thought
so they they demarcated science
and witso and talmadge saw these
christian fundamentalist books that
fielding smith was reading they were
saying that's not really science
but you can't tell that's not science
because you don't have the training to
recognize it
it was a question of expertise to some
extent but by 1954
there's no one left in the quorum who
has that scientific expertise
because they don't get replaced with
scientists and so at that point there
numerous anecdotes um smith says okay
they're gone let's publish let's get
this truth out there
and that's how it unrolls right yeah
i mean i just remember and just talk
about dating yourself i just remember
going back and
when i really decided i was going to
start studying you know kind of
core my mission first but then later and
then back in the 90s i was like okay
what what's the first thing i went to
well what i it's what i knew
at the time right and that was joseph
fielding smith and bruce r mcconkey
yeah and and that's where you start and
uh you know when i'm well beyond that
later on but uh
um i think you know one of my concerns
just for fellow latter-day saints those
that have
a you know the reason i think this is so
important to get out there and to listen
to you
on this and others is because
if you're building your faith your
on this idea that uh
you know this is a face value you know
you're gonna look at genesis one and 2
as a
at face value you're going to run into
trouble more down the road
very much so and and so you need to kind
of take that hit
a little bit and and say okay well
because all of us you know we all want
to protect our testimonies we want to
protect our faith
and that's important to do and you have
natural defenses for that
yeah but it shouldn't be built
on anti-science and and it shouldn't be
built on
um a a literal or or a face value
uh translation of genesis one and two if
you understand that these are written
again i'm
putting my own words in here but written
is drama
i i think it's all written as drama i
think this is very similar to job
right i i think that uh uh this is
this is written for a ritual i think
that's what it's written for
and and i think that you know if you
look at that you say i'm supposed to
participate in this
i'm adam i'm eve
not only do you not rely on the face
value of it but i think you get a lot
more out of it
yeah i agree
on a slightly different note to your
point that
if we don't read it that way if we do
what i am calling a literal reading
that saves us a huge amount of problems
and i won't do it here but i could name
a number of people in the last 30 years
who have left the church over this
issue and caused major
public harm and
some of it is uh it's harm that we have
inflicted on ourselves as the church
yes because so the 1980 old testament
institute manual
which is still the current old testament
institute manual worldwide
translated into dozens of languages
quotes joseph fielding smith that you
have to choose between evolution and the
and that kind of public
false dichotomy has said oh well if
that's true
i choose science because that's well
established and you're very clearly
wrong so i guess you weren't a
prophet uh
that is painful to admit
uh it is something we did to ourselves
now i've spent a lot of time trying to
get into that mindset
i understand why joseph fielding smith
felt that way
for him if evolution was true
then there was no atonement there was no
jesus the whole thing was entirely a
everything rode on evolution and a young
um i disagree with that and because i
don't think those are valid
presuppositions and i can tell you why
at length
his conclusion from those
presuppositions is not remotely a threat
to me
so i can look dispassionately at
evolution and say it's got some problems
but there is
as henry eyring said an awful lot of
evidence in support of it
and that does not undermine my belief in
the reality of jesus and the atonement
all that stuff but that's hard to get
out of your mind if that has been
what you've always believed yeah that is
hard to change
i spend a lot of time trying to work on
presuppositions their world view their
their assumptions that they might not
even know
they have because those are the things
that generate
those more conscious positions evolution
undoes the atonement
so evolution must be evil must be from
can't be true um
so i mean it's it's gotten negative
connotations in some circles but i am
very much arguing for faith very much an
apologist in this sense
and what i argue even though what i
argue sounds very new to people
and i'm i'm fortunate that i've been
allowed to present aspects of this
at the sperry symposium at uh
education week at byu at the fair
you know very orthodox vetted areas
where i can introduce these ideas
uh in a safe place that has been vetted
you know right
yeah and that it needs to get out there
more i mean i you know in the podcast i
i go over this over and over again even
in the come follow me stuff i try i try
to relate everything back to genesis one
and two i want to go there as often as
i think people should and but i think
you know one of the interpreters that i
use in scriptures and trying to help
people see through one of those lenses
as you say
is this this idea of temple imagery and
and and if if we can look at some of
as hey this is how
this is how we participate in this
you know i had some a commenter once on
on the podcast say something to the
effect of uh
we don't you know history doesn't mean
anything unless we can participate in it
in some way
and i think that's right you know i
think that that's what the temple
experience is
and and it's uh this is about covenants
it's not science it is theology
and theology isn't going to be written
in the same way that a
science textbook is uh is going to be
i have one more question for you here
before we end uh
yeah there is there any additional as
you would say even today you know
more of a jewish context or how how the
jews might
look at genesis one is as compared to us
uh well
um there's a saying to jews three
that is there's there's there's rarely a
single jewish perspective on anything
sure uh but given that the old testament
the hebrew bible is their book and
they've been reading it pretty closely
for an awfully long time
um one of the things that i remember
is um there's a famous jewish commenter
from the medieval period named
nachmanidis and nachmanidi says
nothing in genesis is literal
um yeah there are also jewish
fundamentalists who are young earth
but you know you find
much of what i have learned about
genesis that i've that i've tried to
recite here has come from reading
jewish scholars and jewish sources
simply because
they have this long tradition of reading
scripture very carefully
paying attention to details and and
into those details why is this the case
why is it like this and not like that
if you've seen
i don't remember if it's one of my
fireside videos or one of my posts
that's what it's my recent post about
how long were adam and eve in the garden
the conclusions i come to in that post
do not come from
from science or jewish scholars
they come from paying very careful
to details in the temple and they're not
details that are particular to this or
that film
they're they're not representational
that you know the director had to pick
about deliver the line this way or what
right there are
if we pay attention we learn a lot and
that's something i've
picked up that's very simple but from
from judish
scholarship and approaches yeah
appreciate that well man really
appreciate you coming on here and giving
uh filling in some gaps here i hope for
for a number of people here
and and again if you're if you're
someone not you ben but you know the
listeners here if you have had
a a you know
a strong uh testimony that is built off
a literal or face value reading
of genesis one and two just just
consider this this is not something that
a threat right that's that's the message
i would want to give on this is this is
not a threat
to a testimony right this is exactly the
opposite this is this is
very faith promoting and uh i think
allows you to have a little bit more uh
context and and enriching understanding
of uh what's going on here with genesis
1 and 2. ben anything else you wanted to
go over i should say two things one i
love this stuff
i mean i've let's see
i think i've done 12 years of grad
working around this stuff okay that i
i got into through the old testament and
you know i did six years in chicago in
semitics to get at the old testament and
uh but this is fascinating stuff it's
really interesting it gets you into the
scriptures and it's
very rewarding uh
and the second one is this may not be
necessary to say
but i will do it anyway just for clarity
uh the things i say about joseph
fielding smith and elder mcconkie and so
that they were wrong about certain
things doesn't undermine my respect or
faith in them as apostles and prophets
being an apostle being a prophet
being president of the church is not
a theological guarantee that god will
never allow them to say anything that's
what that is is
when god chooses someone as an apostle
he gives them authority to steer the
he does not download the mind of god
into their own mind
there is plenty of diversity of thought
among apostles
so i i argue with joseph fielding smith
all day long
but at the end of the day he's still a
prophet god chose him to lead the church
and make decisions and do certain things
and i believe and respect that
but he's still wrong right that doesn't
his prophethood right i appreciate that
yeah yeah exactly and and and it's kind
of you know
they uh who was it it was uh
um eyring a few years back he was
to a reporter about how um
how discussions go among the apostles
and he said look there's a lot of
all the time people have different ideas
they have different backgrounds
but you know at the end of the day
they'll come up with a unanimous
decision if they're going to move
forward on something
but that's how it works right they they
all have different ideas and they have
different backgrounds and they're
they're uh
very special men that are
doing their best to move things forward
and be trying to allow themselves to be
open for uh for inspiration
and to that point there's never been
unanimous unanimity
about genesis or evolution yes
and most people don't know that history
but there simply hasn't been
so i'm i'm comfortable in what i'm
saying great appreciate that
hey where can people go to get more
information from you i know you have a
yeah my website is
uh if you do slash blog on that you get
a blog where i write gospel doctrine
and a bunch of other things i also have
a page on there on the menu on the left
that has a link to all of my podcasts
and videos and publications
and some resource pages but pretty much
everything i do gets linked there one
or another okay and perhaps
for people who are really interested at
this point and that menu on the left
there's one that just says syllabus
and a couple months ago i put together a
syllabus where i organized a whole bunch
of my posts and videos and things and
if you want to study genesis
and the temple work through these posts
in this order okay and i've gotten a lot
of good feedback from that
great and you do you you want to tell
people what you're working on now
uh well i'm writing my dissertation
on the intellectual roots of lds
creation evolution conflict in the 20th
i've got a book manuscript on genesis 1
and what it meant to the ancient
i'm guest editing a special issue of byu
studies on
biological evolution and lds faith that
we hope to have out
in uh january of 2021
i've got a couple of papers coming out
about how latter-day saints read
and some other things like that and uh
that might be it i have about six major
projects going on gonna say that's it
that's all
what are you doing with your time yeah
great man thanks so much appreciate it
uh maybe we'll grab lunch sometime thank
you yeah


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