At 01:56 PM, Friday, 11/1/02, Marc A. Schindler wrote:

You're asking a question Diamond doesn't attempt to answer, and there's no easy way
to answer this.
I don't believe I suggested that Diamond was supposed to answer my question. I asked my question of the members of this list. If Diamond is right about the domestication of grain and sheep, and the origins of language, isn't there something wrong with our Book of Genesis?

You are forever trying to reconcile science with religion by suggesting that they don't ever tread on each other's toes. I am not convinced. The scriptures say that Cain raised grain, and Abel raised sheep. And Adam was literate and kept a book of remembrance. Diamond says that forty thousand years ago, primitive hunter-gatherers domesticated grain by cultivating local grasses, and that writing originated by some form of intellectual evolution. In was a remarkable invention. You can philosophize and theorize all you want, that sound like a contradiction to me.

We've been told by prophets from Brigham Young to John Widtsoe to Spencer W. Kimball that Genesis is symbolic.
Have they ever said which parts of Genesis are symbolic, or that all of it is symbolic? It seems to me that they teach that Adam and Eve were actual people, the parents of our race. Or is that symbolism too?

I have always supposed that the story of the serpent, tree of life, tree of knowledge, Adam's rib and the flaming sword that kept the couple from returning to Eden were symbols. But was it mere symbolism when Adam was visited by angels who inquired as to why he was offering burnt sacrifice? Genesis tell us that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire from heaven. Was that merely a figure of speech? We learn that Jacob had twelve sons who fathered twelve tribes. Did that really happen, or is it just symbolism, something like a Hebrew Zodiac? In my view, if a person wants to dismiss Genesis as being mere symbolism, he needs to be a little more specific. He needs to either state that all of it is symbolism, or he needs to tell us which parts are symbolism and which parts are to be taken literally.

A scientist isn't after ultimate truth in the religious sense, he's after the best explanation that can be used in a predictive model, or which describes physical evidence. You have to read his book differently than you read Genesis, imo.
First of all, I never said anything about ultimate truth. I just said that Diamond's scenario seems to diverge considerably from the ancient record as contained in Genesis and the Book of Moses. And he didn't provide much "physical evidence" to buttress his claims. He didn't footnote. And there isn't even a proper bibliography, just some suggested "additional reading."

You go too far, imo, when you suggest, even rhetorically, that the scriptures are
just an ancient collection of Hebrew folk tales. That may be their format, but it's
a kind of mythology known as mythopoeia, which means that the narrative isn't the
point -- the symbolism is, and also the way something is written conveys the
message. I believe this is how the temple works, and there's a good explanation
(imo) by Northrop Frye about this that's on my website:
Some people miss the marc (pun intended) by oversimplifying things, and others miss the mark by assuming things to be far more complicated than they are. I probably oversimplify things. And in my opinion you have a tendency in the other direction. Fundamental principles are rarely complex. Cause and effect can often be very complex because virtually nothing ever happens that is not influenced by a multitude of factors.

BTW, the reason I tend to simplify things is because I'm just not smart enough to understand things that are highly complex. Simple minded as I am, I am constantly trying to find the essence of a thing. And by definition, an essence is simple.

I actually have two items by Frye on my website, but this is the shorter one and it
addresses what it means to say that something is "literal", especially sacred
history (what theologists sometimes call, borrowing from German, Heilsgeschichte).

> The book is very well written, and the ancient scenarios he describes are
> fascinating. But I don't see how he could possibly know these things
> except by conjecture. And if his supposition are correct, then there is
> something dreadfully wrong with the Genesis account of the creation.

I'm not sure what you mean by "conjecture."
Conjecture: 2 a : inference from defective or presumptive evidence b : a conclusion deduced by surmise or guesswork c : a proposition (as in mathematics) before it has been proved or disproved

Diamond has done active research in many parts of the world, especially in the Indonesian Archipelago, including New Guinea. It's not an either/or question. Both are right within their appropriate realms.
I think it is a neat trick you do by compartmentalizing science and religion. I have never been able to do it. To my simple mind, they are both trying to describe "the way things are." And according to my scriptures, truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; (D&C 93:24)

Science tries to answer the question: "What happened long ago?" by means of experimentation and the scientific method. Religion proposes to answer the same question by revelation, the prophets and the scriptures.

Believing as I do that science and religion overlap and are not neatly compartmentalized, I have to decide which side of the line am I on. And I have chosen religion.

Tell me, does not the history of science show that it began as a specialized branch of philosophy? And is not philosophy often just secular religion? If so, then there is definitely an overlap that needs to be resolved... or not.

"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about
cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the
time, for no good reason." --Jack Handy
All my opinions are tentative pending further data. --JWR

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