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2,555,000,000 years in this system of things


consiglieri

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While walking this morning, I was listening to a talk by Truman Madsen in which he mentions that Joseph Smith said things have been going on in this system of things for two-billion, five-hundred fifty million (2,555,000,000) years, ostensibly getting this information from his translation of the Egyptian papyri.

Having heard this a number of times before, I got to wondering what formed the basis for this number; it seems so unusual as to unlikely be random.

Getting back to the office, I figured the most likely multpliers would be the days in a week times the days in a year; and sure enough 7 x 365 = 2,555.

Obviously I was on the right track.

Knowing that the Book of Abraham says one day with the Lord is 1,000 years according to our manner of reckoning, I multiplied both the number of days in the week as well as the number of days in a year times 1,000 prior to multiplying them by each other, yielding:

7,000 x 365,000 = 2,555,000,000.

Viola!

Totally reverse engineered!

While I recognize I must be a late-comer to this party, and no doubt somebody like John Pratt has set the table prior to my arrival, I can't help feeling the enthusiasm of new discovery.

Come rejoice with me.

Any thoughts about this, by the way?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Any thoughts about this, by the way?

According to science, that is exactly when things really started rolling in this system of things in the sense that that is when the Proterozoic eon of life on earth began. How could have Joseph Smith known that if he weren't a Prophet? :P

The Proterozoic is the eon of Earth's history that lasted from 2.500 billion to 542 million years ago. In this time span, the cratons grew into continents with modern sizes. For the first time it is clear that plate tectonics took place in a more or less modern sense. Another important development was the change to an oxygen rich atmosphere. Life developed from prokaryotes into eukaryotes and multicellular forms. The Proterozoic saw a couple of very severe ice ages called snowball Earths. After the end of the last Snowball Earth about 600 million years ago, the evolution of life on Earth accelerated. About 580 million years ago, the Ediacara biota formed the prelude for the Cambrian Explosion.
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consiglieri:

While much more accurate than Archbishop Ussher dating speculation. JS methodology is equally suspect and lacking in any real scientific sense of the word.

While Joseph Smith's calculations at least put the age of the earth within the same order of magnitude as current scientific theory, I agree that there is no "real scientific" sense used here, and doubt that it is supposed to be "scientific" as we understand that word.

I think it is supposed to be utterly symbolic, and shows an advance in Joseph Smith's thinking over earlier indications he thought the age of the earth to be 7,000 years.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I guess God had no hand in the creation of stromatolites.

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/precambrian/archaean.html

Introduction to the Archaean

3.8 to 2.5 billion years ago

If you were able to travel back to visit the Earth during the Archaean, you would likely not recognize it is the same planet we inhabit today. The atmosphere was very different from what we breathe today; at that time, it was likely a reducing atmosphere of methane, ammonia, and other gases which would be toxic to most life on our planet today. Also during this time, the Earth's crust cooled enough that rocks and continental plates began to form.

It was early in the Archaean that life first appeared on Earth. Our oldest fossils date to roughly 3.5 billion years ago, and consist of bacteria microfossils. In fact, all life during the more than one billion years of the Archaean was bacterial. At right is an artist's depiction of what an Archaean coast might have looked like 3.5 billion years ago. The mounds in the foreground are stromatolites, colonies of photosynthetic bacteria which have been found as fossils in Early Archaean rocks of South Africa and Western Australia. Stromatolites increased in abundance throughout the Archaean, but began to decline during the Proterozoic. They are not common today.

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/precambrian/proterozoic.html

Introduction to the Proterozoic Era

2.5 billion to 543 million years ago

The period of Earth's history that began 2.5 billion years ago and ended 543 million years ago is known as the Proterozoic. Many of the most exciting events in the history of the Earth and of life occurred during the Proterozoic -- stable continents first appeared and began to accrete, a long process taking about a billion years. Also coming from this time are the first abundant fossils of living organisms, mostly bacteria and archaeans, but by about 1.8 billion years ago eukaryotic cells appear as fossils too.

With the beginning of the Middle Proterozoic comes the first evidence of oxygen build-up in the atmosphere. This global catastrophe spelled doom for many bacterial groups, but made possible the explosion of eukaryotic forms. These include multicellular algae, and toward the end of the Proterozoic, the first animals.
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While walking this morning, I was listening to a talk by Truman Madsen in which he mentions that Joseph Smith said things have been going on in this system of things for two-billion, five-hundred fifty million (2,555,000,000) years, ostensibly getting this information from his translation of the Egyptian papyri.

One very basic question -- did JS actually say this? As I remember this was in a footnote in John A. Widsoe's book, "Joseph Smith as a Scientist" but I don't know what kind of source he used.

Perhaps someone can look it up for us.

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consiglieri:

Maybe. What I am suggesting is that JS methodology is equally as bad as the good Archbishops'. He just arrived at a less wrong answer. I don't know as we'll ever know(in this life time) whether JS was speculating on his own, by using poetic license; or if he was trying to be scientific as he understood the word; or if he was trying to reconcile what he knew of geology with the Biblical account. I favor the latter. :P

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Getting back to the office, I figured the most likely multpliers would be the days in a week times the days in a year; and sure enough 7 x 365 = 2,555.

Obviously I was on the right track.

Knowing that the Book of Abraham says one day with the Lord is 1,000 years according to our manner of reckoning, I multiplied both the number of days in the week as well as the number of days in a year times 1,000 prior to multiplying them by each other, yielding:

7,000 x 365,000 = 2,555,000,000.

Viola!

I

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I would agree with that. W.W. Phelps, 5 Times and Seasons (#108) 758 (1 January 1845).

"Well, now, Brother William, when the house of Israel begin to come into the glorious mysteries of the kingdom, and find that Jesus Christ, whose goings forth, as the prophets said, have been from of old, from eternity: and that eternity, agreeably to the records found in the catacombs of Egypt, has been going on in this system, (not this world) almost two thousand five hundred and fifty five millions of years: and to know at the same time, that deists, geologists and others are trying to prove that matter must have existed hundreds of thousands of years;-it almost tempts the flesh to fly to God, or muster faith like Enoch to be translated and see and know as we are seen and known!"

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While walking this morning, I was listening to a talk by Truman Madsen in which he mentions that Joseph Smith said things have been going on in this system of things for two-billion, five-hundred fifty million (2,555,000,000) years, ostensibly getting this information from his translation of the Egyptian papyri.

Having heard this a number of times before, I got to wondering what formed the basis for this number; it seems so unusual as to unlikely be random.

Getting back to the office, I figured the most likely multpliers would be the days in a week times the days in a year; and sure enough 7 x 365 = 2,555.

Obviously I was on the right track.

Knowing that the Book of Abraham says one day with the Lord is 1,000 years according to our manner of reckoning, I multiplied both the number of days in the week as well as the number of days in a year times 1,000 prior to multiplying them by each other, yielding:

7,000 x 365,000 = 2,555,000,000.

I think you are right on the derivation. But I was confused why the extra 1,000 and the 7 for days of a week. Thinking about it some I propose the following:

7 dispensations x ( 1000 Kolob years / 1 dispensation ) x ( 365 Kolob days / 1 Kolob year ) x ( 1000 earth years / 1 Kolob day ) = 2,555,000,000 earth years.

Or if one's rather, one can substitute dispensations for creation "days".

This length, as mentioned by Tsuzuki mentions is the age of the post-archean earth. More likely coincidence than anything else, I suspect.

PS: I have no idea why anybody would suppose that there are physically 365 Kolob days in a Kolob year though.

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Thanks for confirming my point. Joseph Smith was unique in his claim for the age of the earth and solar system.

I wouldn't say he's unique. Carl Sagan claimed in Cosmos that the only religion that talks about the timespan of the universe in a way close to reality is Hinduism:

According to Hindu mythology and Vedic cosmology the universe is cyclically created and destroyed. The life span of Lord Brahma, the creator, is 100 'Brahma-Years'. One day in the life of Brahma is called a Kalpa or 4.32 billion years (the approximate life span of the earth). Every Kalpa (one day in the life of Brahma), Brahma creates 14 Manus one after the other, who in turn manifest and regulate this world. Thus, there are fourteen generations of Manu in each Kalpa (one day of Brahma). Each Manu

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How do you know it's the age of the earth and solar system he's talking about? CFR
That's easy.
Well, now, Brother William, when the house of Israel begin to come into the glorious mysteries of the kingdom, and find that Jesus Christ, whose goings forth, as the prophets said, have been from of old, from eternity; and that eternity, agreeably to the records found in the catacombs of Egypt, has been going on in this system almost two thousand five hundred and fifty five millions of years
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Nice work--the process you describe is almost certainly the correct derivation. I have to wonder, though, how the response would have been if such an explanation were offered by a critic...Maybe something like "har, har, har...now Joseph Smith is a mathematician! Is there anything this uneducated farm boy couldn't do?"

To me, this is a perfect example of religious invention. You take a bit of information (the number of days in the week and in a year), merge it with some religious trivia (1,000 years = one God day), omit your sources, and viola! A "revelation" is born.

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Nice work--the process you describe is almost certainly the correct derivation. I have to wonder, though, how the response would have been if such an explanation were offered by a critic...Maybe something like "har, har, har...now Joseph Smith is a mathematician! Is there anything this uneducated farm boy couldn't do?"

To me, this is a perfect example of religious invention. You take a bit of information (the number of days in the week and in a year), merge it with some religious trivia (1,000 years = one God day), omit your sources, and viola! A "revelation" is born.

Well, now, Brother William, when the house of Israel begin to come into the glorious mysteries of the kingdom, and find that Jesus Christ, whose goings forth, as the prophets said, have been from of old, from eternity; and that eternity, agreeably to the records found in the catacombs of Egypt, has been going on in this system almost two thousand five hundred and fifty five millions of years
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The question really is: If he was using the best science available. Was he accurate in his ideas? He was off by a factor of almost 2.

Really? What exactly did they mean by "this system". If you can define that term, then we can decide whether he was off by "almost 2".

He was in the ballpark, so let's see what defines that ballpark.

As to "best science available", science was not even in that ballpark in 1840.

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I don't think we have any reason to attribute this to JS. It is Phelps's own opinion, so far as I can tell. And as I wrote on my blog a while back, "It's worth adding that Phelps's math is a little off. The problem is that he confuses his units: the 365 days per year are Earth-days, whereas the 1000 years per day refers to a Kolob-day. The units don't cancel, and so the result is nonsense."

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