"So, if Joseph Smith said that the morn of creation is the starting point for us to look to "in order for us to understand and be fully acquainted with the mind, purposes and decrees of the Great Elohim," and if what we have in the endowment presentation and in the Books of Moses and Abraham are not at least highly abridged accounts of what happened on that morn of creation, where do we go in order to look to it, as Joseph tells us we must? Did Adam fall that man might be? How did that happen? Is Adam the first man, or is he not? Is Eve the mother of all living, or is all that just symbolic? If, as the temple presentation makes clear, the account of Eve's creation from Adam's side is merely figurative, does that not suggest that the rest of the Garden of Eden account is not? If these accounts are not historical where does history begin? It doesn't seem to me that the account Lehi gives to his son Jacob in 2 Nephi 2 about Adam and Eve and what transpired in the Garden of Eden is mythical or merely symbolic. Joseph Smith indicates that it is critical for us to understand our origins in order for us to fully understand the mind, purposes and decrees of the great Elohim. You seem to be saying that that's not possible from the temple or from the Scriptures. I am a great fan of your videos and never miss any, but I must say this one leaves me perplexed."
Thank you for the time you put into this well though out comment. I understand that this is a new paradigm for some, but I think it is correct. Let me be clear, I am not saying that there is no Adam or Eve. They were and are real people. I am not even saying there was no Garden of Eden. That may all be true. But the Creation account and the Garden of Eden account are not historical accounts of those things. They may pull from real historical events, but the stories are accounts from visions and are in a "spiritual language". Their purpose is to build the temple and to create and perform the temple dramas.
Let's try to get a few baseline truths laid down and go from there. This is not an argument from me, just some of my thoughts-
1) Based on the scriptures I referenced in Exodus, Book of Moses and Book of Abraham, it is obvious that these are visions. I think we need to start with that. Visions are spiritual truths. Not necessarily literal truths. Look at Lehi's visions. The Tree of Life vision is not an actual place where there is an actual rod of iron, an actual valley of judgement, Great and Spacious Building or Tree of Life. At least not the Tree of Life Lehi and Nephi see. I think most people would agree with that. But it tells spiritual truths. It also has real characters in it; Lehi, Sariah, Laman, Lemeuel, Sam and Nephi. None of them literally were hanging on to the Iron Rod or actually partook of the Tree or Fruit that Lehi saw. Now, what is "true" about that vision. It has actual people in it and it tells actual truths. How about John's Revelation? It has actual, identifiable people in it and actual "churches" (congregations) in it. But are the "beasts" real? Are the Horsemen real? Is there really a "dragon"? One more. Isaiah has a vision in Isaiah 6. He sees "seraphim". A seraphim is a "fiery serpent". One of them gives him a hot coal to put to his lips. Is there really a "fiery serpent"? Was there an actual coal that burnt Isaiah's lips? The answer to all of these examples is "no". Because they are not historical.
My point with these examples is to show that visions are not normal life. They draw from real people and objects but their purpose is not to be historical or scientific. It is to tell truths and immerse us into a "drama" or story that helps us "experience" eternal principles.
2) We are told very clearly in the temple that we are to imagine that we are Adam or Eve. Based on numerous discussions I've had over decades with temple goers, most people dismiss this and view the "movie" (now slide presentation) as a story about Adam and Eve. This just isn't the purpose of the endowment. Again, the purpose is to immerse YOU into the story as one of those two characters. I think when we had live sessions, this was easier to understand.
Let me address a few of your very good questions:
Question: So, if Joseph Smith said that the morn of creation is the starting point for us to look to "in order for us to understand and be fully acquainted with the mind, purposes and decrees of the Great Elohim," and if what we have in the endowment presentation and in the Books of Moses and Abraham are not at least highly abridged accounts of what happened on that morn of creation, where do we go in order to look to it, as Joseph tells us we must?
Response: Again, I think you are starting off not taking into account that these are visions. So if there is any abridgment, it is not from history, it is from what those prophets saw in their visions. I suppose you could say that the visions shown to them were "abridged accounts". But again that is not how they are written. They are written as a drama. By placing ourselves in the Creation and Garden of Eden dramas, we can more fully "understand and be fully acquainted with the mind, purposes and decrees of the Great Elohim." I would guess that Joseph Smith here is specifically thinking about the Temple Ceremonies. This is all we have by way of revelation about the origins of creation and of mortal man. So the "dramas" are how He wants us to learn about Him.
Question: Did Adam fall that man might be?
Response: Absolutely! So did you!
Question: How did that happen?
Response: I don't know exactly. Did Lehi partake of a fruit? Or did he decide to pursue, as a participant, the Plan of Redemption?
Question: Is Eve the mother of all living, or is all that just symbolic?
Response: Absolutely! So is your wife! If you're married.
Question: If, as the temple presentation makes clear, the account of Eve's creation from Adam's side is merely figurative, does that not suggest that the rest of the Garden of Eden account is not?
Response: I don't think so. Another question could be, "If the rib is figurative, then are other parts of the story figurative?
For example, was there really a serpent talking to Eve? Or was the serpent Lucifer? If you are taking the rest of the temple endowment as not being figurative, where is the serpent? What about Peter, James and John? Are those the actual apostles or are they figures of prophets and apostles, even angels sent to teach Adam and Eve, or primarily, sent to earth to teach you and I? If we consider the Garden of Eden story to be a "Tree of Life" vision, why does Lehi's "Tree of Life vision replace the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil with the Great & Spacious Building? I believe they both represent "pride".
Let's take a look at these scriptures in Genesis 2:21-24,
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
"Sleep" is often associated with "covenant" in scripture. Again, spiritual language. The rib is a separation which is the first half of "covenant", Adam and Eve are later married for the second half of Covenant as they are brought together again. This is shown in v. 24 where Adam is to "separate" from his "parents" and "cleave" to Eve.
Question: If these accounts are not historical where does history begin?
Response: I don't know. Neither do the prophets. Or at least not what they have revealed.
Question: It doesn't seem to me that the account Lehi gives to his son Jacob in 2 Nephi 2 about Adam and Eve and what transpired in the Garden of Eden is mythical or merely symbolic.
Response: Great reference! But he could easily be referring to the account of the "vision". This is scripture! It is direct from God. It is my belief, that some of this is based in history but that the majority is symbolic. We refer to the Garden of Eden all the time. That doesn't make it all historical. We refer to Lehi's dream a lot also. But it's not historical. Same with, for example, the parable of the Prodigal Son. Maybe there was a real example of the Prodigal Son that inspired the parable. But you and I are the Prodigal Son.
Question: Joseph Smith indicates that it is critical for us to understand our origins in order for us to fully understand the mind, purposes and decrees of the great Elohim. You seem to be saying that that's not possible from the temple or from the Scriptures.
Response: Not at all. This is how He wants us to learn this. By putting ourselves into the drama and making our own covenants. I believe this helps us to learn more that, not only Adam and Eve were made "in the image of God", but that you and I were as well. After all, to some degree, this is how the Savior taught, through parables. Must be a good, spiritual way to teach and to understand truths.
I would be happy to discuss further here, by email, etc. Again, I appreciate you asking these questions and offering your input.
"I just started listening to but it seems the problem is already seen. If you don't believe in Genesis you can't believe In Jesus Christ, since He quoted it as true. So you're faith is meaningless if you don't take God at His Word."
My friend, I fully believe in Genesis and I fully believe in Jesus Christ and I am a strong defender of the faith. I have worked diligently to help others keep their faith. I serve diligently and I am faithful to my covenants. My faith is not "meaningless". It is everything.
I have always appreciated your comments. But here you are putting my own beliefs and efforts into my own mind and heart. So let me try to clarify and kindly respond.
It sounds to me like you take everything in Genesis literally. I do not. Nor do I take all of Lehi's vision literally, Isaiah's vision literally or, John's vision literally. That would go against reason, reality and the purpose of God giving those visions.
Perhaps you are not quite understanding what I am saying. Keep in mind, I believe that Adam is Michael. I believe that Michael helped create the earth (perhaps you and I as well). I believe that he led the faithful in the War in Heaven. I believe that He married Eve. I believe they lived in a paradisaical state. I believe that both he and Eve were tempted and fell, maybe even from partaking of a fruit, but maybe not. I believe that Adam and Eve were faithful in their mortality. I believe that Eve gave birth to Seth, Cain and Abel. I believe that messengers were sent to Adam and Eve to teach them the gospel. I believe that Adam and Eve were baptized. I believe that Adam received the Melchizedek Priesthood and was a great prophet.
I also believe that the Creation and the Garden of Eden stories are written as ritual, for the temple and as a "drama" and that that is how they should be understood. I also believe that though they draw from history, they are not written from a historical standpoint but from visions. If you do not believe they are written from visions you do not believe the scriptures.
Yes Jesus refers to them. I do too. All the time. My listeners know that I am constantly harping on this. To focus more and more on the Creation and Garden of Eden stories. John also writes about the creation in John chapter 1. Do you believe a "word" created everything? Or is that figurative? What do you make of "in the beginning"? Is that literal. There was a beginning? You and I both know that is not true and goes against doctrine.. It is figurative.
Here are several quotes from authoritative sources:
"Even the most devout and sincere believers in the Bible realize that it is, like most any other book, filled with metaphor, simile, allegory, and parable, which no intelligent person could be compelled to accept in a literal sense. ... The Lord has not taken from those who believe in his word the power of reason. He expects every man who takes his "yoke" upon him to have common sense enough to accept a figure of speech in its proper setting, and to understand that the holy scriptures are replete with allegorical stories, faith-building parables, and artistic speech. ...
[continued] Where is there a writing intended to be taken in all its parts literally? Such a writing would be insipid and hence lack natural appeal. To expect a believer in the Bible to strike an attitude of this kind and believe all that is written to be a literal rendition is a stupid thought. No person with the natural use of his faculties looks upon the Bible in such a light." [Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Bookcraft, 1956, vol. 3, pg. 188].
"What a fascinating story is inscribed upon the stony pages of the earth's crust! ... This record of Adam and his posterity is the only scriptural account we have of the appearance of man upon this earth. But we have also a vast and ever-increasing volume of knowledge concerning man, his early habits and customs, his industries and works of art, his tools and implements, about which such scriptures as we have thus far received are entirely silent. Let us not try to wrest the scriptures in an attempt to explain away what we cannot explain. The opening chapters of Genesis, and scriptures related thereto, were never intended as a textbook of geology, archaeology, earth-science or man-science. Holy Scripture will endure, while the conceptions of men change with new discoveries. We do not show reverence for the scriptures when we misapply them through faulty interpretation." [James E. Talmage, "The Earth and Man," address delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, 9 Aug 1931, and published by the Church under direction of the First Presidency].
"Whatever the subject may be, the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ may be elaborated upon without fear of anyone's objecting, and the teacher can be free to express his honest conviction regarding it, whether that subject be in geology, the history of the world, the millions of years that it took to prepare the physical world, whether it be in engineering, literature, art -- any principles of the gospel may be briefly or extensively touched upon for the anchoring of the student who is seeking to know the truth." [David O. McKay, "Gospel Ideals -- Life's Surest Anchor," BYU Speeches of the Year, 30 Oct 1956; McKay used this same passage in another BYU talk dated 16 May 1967.]
"In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular. You may take geology, for instance, and it is a true science; not that I would say for a moment that all the conclusions and deductions of its professors are true, but its leading principles are; they are facts--they are eternal; and to assert that the Lord made this earth out of nothing is preposterous and impossible. God never made something out of nothing; it is not in the economy or law by which the worlds were, are, or will exist. There is an eternity before us, and it is full of matter; and if we but understand enough of the Lord and his ways, we would say that he took of this matter and organized this earth from it. How long it has been organized it is not for me to say, and I do not care anything about it. As for the Bible account of the creation we may say that the Lord gave it to Moses, or rather Moses obtained the history and traditions of the fathers, and from these picked out what he considered necessary, and that account has been handed down from age to age, and we have got it, no matter whether it is correct or not, and whether the Lord found the earth empty and void, whether he made it out of nothing or out of the rude elements; or whether he made it in six days or in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. If we understood the process of creation there would be no mystery about it, it would be all reasonable and plain, for there is no mystery except to the ignorant." [Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 14, pg. 116, 14 May 1871].
"The time of creation has ever been a subject of much comment and dispute. Yet I challenge anybody to produce from the Bible itself any finite limitation whatsoever of the periods of creation. By strained inferential references and interpretations men have sought to set the time in days or periods of a thousand years, but I feel sure that no justification of such limitations is warranted by the scriptures themselves . . . in my humble opinion the Biblical account is sufficiently comprehensive to include the whole of the process." [Stephen L. Richards, First Counselor in the First Presidency under David O. McKay, "An Open Letter to College Students," Improvement Era, vol. 36 (June 1933), pg. 451-453, 484-485.
"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 . . On that side lies development, on the other lies contraction. . . . One leads to narrow sectarianism, the other keeps the open spirit of a world movement with which our New Dispensation began. As between them which is to be our choice?" [B. H. Roberts, The Truth, the Way, the Life, originally written 1931, published by Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, UT, 1994, pg. 364].
We can all look at these "mysteries" in different ways. What I have offered is my opinion based decades of research and study, experience and prayer. Thank you for your long-time following of the podcast and your time in reading my response.