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D&C 77:6


Rivers

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Doctrine and Covenants 77:6

Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was asealed on the back with seven seals?A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, bmysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this cearth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.

Anybody have good ways of interpreting this scripture that would make more sense with what we now know about the age of the earth?

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Pretty clear to me.

The earth has gone through several stages, and the stage referenced here, "temporal existence" == the time period since the fall of Adam.

TEMPORAL

pertaining to or concerned with the present life or this world (dictionary.com)

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Pretty clear to me.

The earth has gone through several stages, and the stage referenced here, "temporal existence" == the time period since the fall of Adam.

TEMPORAL

pertaining to or concerned with the present life or this world (dictionary.com)

That doesn't make sense either. We know that the human race itself is much older than 6,000 years.

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Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was asealed on the back with seven seals?A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, bmysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this cearth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
Anybody have good ways of interpreting this scripture that would make more sense with what we now know about the age of the earth?

Yes. The Church has had official doctrine on this for quite some time that is quite compatible with modern thinking on the age of the earth.

D&C 77:6–7 . Why Was the Book Sealed That John Saw?

“‘The book which John saw’ represented the real history of the world—what the eye of God has seen, what the recording angel has written; and the seven thousand years, corresponding to the seven seals of the Apocalyptic volume, are as seven great days during which Mother Earth will fulfill her mortal mission, laboring six days and resting upon the seventh, her period of sanctification. These seven days do not include the period of our planet’s creation and preparation as a dwelling place for man. They are limited to Earth’s ‘temporal existence,’ that is, to Time, considered as distinct from Eternity.” (Whitney, Saturday Night Thoughts, p. 11.)

D&C Institute Manual

Notice also what this does to our notion of temporal and spiritual. The physical creation and preparation of the earth is placed on the "spiritual" side.

In addition:

While it is interesting to note these various theories, officially the Church has not taken a stand on the age of the earth. For reasons best known to Himself, the Lord has not yet seen fit to formally reveal the details of the Creation. Therefore, while Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn truth from many different fields of study (see D&C 88:77–79 ), an attempt to establish any theory as the official position of the Church is not justifiable.

Old Testament Institute manual

So feel free to believe the age of the earth is 4.5 billion years. It is also possible to freely accept evolution without coming into conflict with LDS doctrine. Of course one must be a little more careful of one's hypothesis on evolution and LDS doctrine since there is more than one issue to take care of. But the age of the earth issue is solved as you can see from the above.

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The temporal age of the earth means the age of the earth since death appeared on the scene. This means that man is no older than 6-7 thousand years old. It's quite simple really. It also means that the long ages scientists give to the earth and how long things have been dying is wrong. Plain and simple stuff.

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Doctrine and Covenants 77:6

Anybody have good ways of interpreting this scripture that would make more sense with what we now know about the age of the earth?

Sadly, there is no way to make sense of this issue in light of scientific theories about the age of humanity.

When this issue is discussed, it's important to distinguish between the age of the Earth, and the time since the Fall of Adam. BCSpace has helpfully provided references to the Church's teachings about the age of the Earth, but that's not what D&C 77:6 is referring to. The "temporal" age of the Earth would be time in which the Earth has been "temporal", or physical. According to the consistent teachings of LDS apostles and prophets as published by the Church, this time began at the Fall of Adam, when physical death entered the world.

Here's how that verse is explained in an unsigned Ensign article:

Why is the book important? D&C 77:6 tells us it contains, in essence, God’s record “concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.”

Even so, the book is never opened or read in Revelation, but it has seven seals that are removed one by one. And what do the seals represent? Again the Prophet Joseph Smith tells us: “The first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.” (D&C 77:7.)

When the first seal is opened in the beginning verses of Revelation 6, there is shown to John an important occurrence from the first thousand years after the Fall. The Bible dictionary of the LDS edition of the King James Bible places the Fall near 4000 B.C. (See Bible Dictionary, p. 635.) When the second seal is opened in the subsequent verses, John is shown something about the second thousand years. And so on through the first four seals. The fifth seal information presented to John represents both a time period and some events of which John knew a great deal. The Apostle is shown a representation of those who “were slain for the word of God” after the opening of the fifth seal. (Rev. 6:9.)

---------------------------------------------------

Revelation’s Seven Seals

John’s seven seals give an overview of the seven thousand years of earth’s “temporal existence,” as follows:

1. (Rev. 6:1–2—about 4000 B.C. to 3000 B.C.) John sees a warrior, conquering.

2. (Rev. 6:3–4—about 3000 B.C. to 2000 B.C.) John sees a representation of human contention and death.

3. (Rev. 6:5–6—about 2000 B.C. to 1000 B.C.) John sees images of famine.

4. (Rev. 6:7–8—about 1000 B.C. to A.D. 1) John sees death by war, famine, beasts.

5. (Rev. 6:9–11—about A.D. 1 to A.D. 1000) John sees the martyrs for Christ of the early Christian era.

6. (About A.D. 1000 to A.D. 2000)

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The temporal age of the earth means the age of the earth since death appeared on the scene. This means that man is no older than 6-7 thousand years old. It's quite simple really. It also means that the long ages scientists give to the earth and how long things have been dying is wrong. Plain and simple stuff.

So essentially, death was introduced to the earth approximately 6000-7000 years ago? Before that, death did not occur on earth and man is "no older than 6-7 thousand years old"?

Wow, then our current scientific understanding of the age of the world and humanity is a gigantic conspiracy heaped upon us by the world's scientific community?

Hmmm, a gigantic conspiracy perpetrated by the world's scientific community to bury the "truth" about the actual age of mankind.....yes, suddenly it is plain and simple.

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http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_science/Pre-Adamites

and

http://fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_science/Age_of_the_Earth

The language in our scriptures from which such dating of the "age of the earth" is drawn is not intended to provide the kinds of scientific information that some people insist on having. The best answer to questions about the date of Adam or the age of the earth is simply that we have no revealed knowledge on the topic. It is also important to bear in mind that having or not having such information is not crucial for our salvation.

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The temporal age of the earth means the age of the earth since death appeared on the scene. This means that man is no older than 6-7 thousand years old. It's quite simple really. It also means that the long ages scientists give to the earth and how long things have been dying is wrong. Plain and simple stuff.

I believe that it is possible to reconcile the modern understanding of scientists and LDS doctrine. To claim that scientists are "wrong" will get you involved with a long, difficult defense that will lead you somewhere you do not want to go.

Perhaps the answer lies in our understanding of the creation process as found in the scriptures. Just as we changed our interpretation of BOM geography (one vs two hills called Cumorah), an adjustment in our interpretation would bring a different understanding which does not contradict science.

For example, it is clear to me from science that death existed prior to Adam. But it is also clear that there was no death in the Garden of Eden itself.

Death was a part of the millions of years in the creation process, with the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve as the final stage of creation. We need to be able to wrap our minds around those concepts, and it may be possible to reconcile them.

For example, when Adam left the garden, what was the boundary that he crossed? He stepped across some line between the garden, and the natural world.

Finally the scriptures tell us that Adam was "the first flesh". What exactly does that mean in the context of our discussion here.

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So essentially, death was introduced to the earth approximately 6000-7000 years ago? Before that, death did not occur on earth and man is "no older than 6-7 thousand years old"?

Wow, then our current scientific understanding of the age of the world and humanity is a gigantic conspiracy heaped upon us by the world's scientific community?

Hmmm, a gigantic conspiracy perpetrated by the world's scientific community to bury the "truth" about the actual age of mankind.....yes, suddenly it is plain and simple.

I imagine most scientists would be surprised to learn that before Adam, humans didn't have blood circulating in their veins.

And that's the apostle who's a heart surgeon! :unsure:

So yeah, we LDS must be comfortable with some divergence between our leaders' teachings and commonly accepted scientific beliefs.

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Doctrine and Covenants 77:6

Anybody have good ways of interpreting this scripture that would make more sense with what we now know about the age of the earth?

That scripture says nothing about the age of the earth, or how long it took God to create it. The 7,000 years refer to the time line from the fall of Adam to the winding up scene.

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After partaking of the fruit, there was a physical change in Adam. There was another fluid in his veins which prevented death, and it was then replaced by blood as we know it today, making him mortal.

Is that so inconceivable? I find it interesting that you find it so interesting.

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After partaking of the fruit, there was a physical change in Adam. There was another fluid in his veins which prevented death, and it was then replaced by blood as we know it today, making him mortal.

Is that so inconceivable? I find it interesting that you find it so interesting.

I don't think that is in any of the scriptures. I wonder who it was that first taught this.

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Rivers:

I have nothing against scientists. But their ideas about God are not of much import to me.

So my question is why should there be more of them in the upper counsels of the Church?

Because science is a method of finding truth. And finding truth is an important part of mormonism.

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The temporal age of the earth means the age of the earth since death appeared on the scene. This means that man is no older than 6-7 thousand years old. It's quite simple really. It also means that the long ages scientists give to the earth and how long things have been dying is wrong. Plain and simple stuff.

Yes, it is quite plain that there was a creative period before the Garden state of no death as per 2 Nephi 2:22. This creative state does not have the property of no death attached to it. Rather, according to the scripture, when the creation was finished, that which was created was placed into a state of no death. Thus it is a true and reasonable statement that one can state there was no death before the Fall (Garden state) and also that there was death and evolution before the Garden state.

Finally the scriptures tell us that Adam was "the first flesh". What exactly does that mean in the context of our discussion here.

And the first man (Moses 3:7). I would posit that "first flesh" refers to the first flesh to fall or the first after the Fall. Or in other words, the first in this temporal existence which as we've seen does not include the creation of the earth or the preparation of it. This seems to be borne out in the GS - Fall of Adam and Eve:

The process by which mankind became mortal on this earth. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they became mortal, that is, subject to sin and death. Adam became the “first flesh” upon the earth (Moses 3:7). Latter-day revelation makes clear that the Fall is a blessing and that Adam and Eve should be honored as the first parents of all mankind.

So it's not that Adam came before the other animals, it's that he was the first to become mortal after the Garden state.

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Finally the scriptures tell us that Adam was "the first flesh". What exactly does that mean in the context of our discussion here.

If I lived in Joseph's Smith's day I would say that the first flesh was literally the first human being to walk the earth. As a high school and college educated person living in the 21st century, I have no clue what that could possibly mean. The first replicating organism perhaps?

From an LDS perspective I would have to say that means the first of God's spirit children to enter a mortal body.

But what about all the creatures that lived before Adam? Did they have spirits?

I would say that in God's eyes, Adam was the first being to be considered man. Perhaps there was some mutation in Adam's DNA that made him the first official human?

We know that all plants and animals have spirits. Maybe before Adam and Eve, all spirits came from the same place that animal and plant spirits come from.

I know that this is a lot of mental gymnastics. But if you study the Kabbalah or watch the Backyard Professor videos about the Kabbalah, you will understand that the Jews did a lot of mental gymnastics with the scriptures and came up with all sorts of creative interpretations.

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Yes, it is quite plain that there was a creative period before the Garden state of no death as per 2 Nephi 2:22. This creative state does not have the property of no death attached to it. Rather, according to the scripture, when the creation was finished, that which was created was placed into a state of no death. Thus it is a true and reasonable statement that one can state there was no death before the Fall (Garden state) and also that there was death and evolution before the Garden state.

And just like that, you have negated the need for a fall. If God created the world in a mortal, fallen state with physical death, then there is no need for a Garden and fruit and Fall. He could select any of the mortal humanoids living in cities, farming, reading and writing, and give some of their children God Spirits instead of Animal Spirits, and that would start the whole process.

It wouldn't be a "fall" because that's just the way things were created. It would be a continuum, starting with creation and progressing towards the celestial plane.

Of course, that doesn't answer the biggest question: When the Fall happened and the Earth "fell" out of orbit around Kolob and took up its present location, what was that like for all the other humanoids on the planet?

President Joseph Fielding Smith stated that in this verse the Lord “revealed to Abraham that Adam was subject to Kolob’s time before his transgression.” 19 According to President Brigham Young, Abraham 5:13 [Abr. 5:13] also means that before the Fall of Adam, the earth was near the very throne of God. But when the Fall occurred, the earth literally fell or moved from the physical presence of God to its present position in our solar system. When all the effects of the Fall of Adam are finally overcome, the earth will literally move back into the presence of God. Here are President Young’s words:

“When the earth was framed and brought into existence and man was placed upon it, it was near the throne of our Father in heaven. … But when man fell, the earth fell into space, and took up its abode in this planetary system. … This is the glory the earth came from, and when it is glorified it will return again unto the presence of the Father, and it will dwell there, and these intelligent beings that I am looking at, if they live worthy of it, will dwell upon this earth.” 20

The power by which the effects of Adam’s Fall are overcome for all created things, including the earth, is the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see D&C 76:40–43; Moses 7:48–62).

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If I lived in Joseph's Smith's day I would say that the first flesh was literally the first human being to walk the earth.

Maybe. But you could still take it one step further, even in JS's time. What is man in the Gospel sense? A spirit child of God with a physical body. Now with modern knowledge, remember that civilization didn't form until relatively recently. What could that mean for what is a man in the Gospel sense? Why would big-brained homo sapiens, who've been around for hundreds of thousands of years, not develop civilization for so long and then suddenly explode with development? Is it possible that preAdamite homo sapiens are not spirit children of God? That evolution was used to prepare physical bodies so that when all the other conditions were right and the preparation of the earth as a dwelling place for man was complete spirit children of God were now born? PreAdamites would still have spirits of course......

With this line of thinking, the Fall need not be pushed back from the traditional (and likely wrong) date of 4000 B.C. more than a factor of 2 or 3.

But we also know from the 1931 statement that the Church has no doctrine either on the existence of preAdamites so they are certainly not precluded.

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I find it interesting that reading and writing are about 6,000 years old. So we could say that history is about 6,000 years old.

Other than that there is no connection to the physical age of the earth.

Sounds good to me.

No scripture is meant to be taken as a scientific treatise. There was no "earth" before there was a word for it- there might have been something but it wasn't "earth".

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I would say that in God's eyes, Adam was the first being to be considered man. Perhaps there was some mutation in Adam's DNA that made him the first official human?

I know very few here will accept this but there is a well-established philosophical point of view that we linguistically construct our "world".

Every perception we make is filtered through a human brain and interpreted by a human brain, and largely programmed by the way we think linguistically.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/supplement6.html

Karl Mannheim speaks of:

…the world as “world” exists only with reference to the knowing mind, and the mental activity of the subject determines the form in which it appears. …This is the first state stage in the dissolution of an ontological dogmatism which regarded the “world” as existing independently of us, in a fixed and definitive form (1929/1936, p. 66).

This does not entail solipsism - the idea is that we all together create what we call "reality" including things like scientific observations- after all, all we can know is what has been experienced by some human sometime, because all we can know is human experience. We are humans after all- how could we know anything else??

Here is the entire chapter of Abraham 4

I have taken the liberty of underlining each instance where the gods use language to create reality; notice we are always taught that God created first by plan and conception, then "in reality". I have also inserted quotation marks where I believe the text is speaking about the words for things. Remember, plans and conceptions are linguistic concepts. Indeed, I really feel most of the chapter should be underlined, but I am just actually underlining the most obvious examples.

Chapter 4

1And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the "beginning", and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.

2And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.

3And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.

4And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.

5And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. And it came to pass that from the evening until morning they called night; and from the morning until the evening they called day; and this was the first, or the beginning, of that which they called "day" and "night".

6And the Gods also said: Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and it shall divide the waters from the waters.

7And the Gods ordered the expanse, so that it divided the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so, even as they ordered.

8And the Gods called the expanse, "Heaven". And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and this was the second time that they called "night" and "day".

9And the Gods ordered, saying: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the earth come up dry; and it was so as they ordered;

10And the Gods pronounced the dry land, "Earth"; and the gathering together of the waters, pronounced they, "Great Waters"; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.

11And the Gods said: Let us prepare the earth to bring forth grass; the herb yielding seed; the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, whose seed in itself yieldeth its own likeness upon the earth; and it was so, even as they ordered.

12And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth grass from its own seed, and the herb to bring forth herb from its own seed, yielding seed after his kind; and the earth to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.

13And it came to pass that they numbered the days; from the evening until the morning they called night; and it came to pass, from the morning until the evening they called day; and it was the "third time".

14And the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven, and caused them to divide the day from the night; and organized them to be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years;

15And organized them to be for lights (signs for seasons-mfb) in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so.

16And the Gods organized the two great lights, the "greater" light to rule the day, and the "lesser" light to rule the night; with the lesser light they set the stars also;

17And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to cause to divide the light from the darkness.

18And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.

19And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that it was "night"; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that it was "day"; and it was the "fourth time".

20And the Gods said: Let us prepare the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life; and the fowl, that they may fly above the earth in the open expanse of heaven.

21And the Gods prepared the waters that they might bring forth great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters were to bring forth abundantly after their kind; and every winged fowl after their kind. And the Gods saw that they would be obeyed, and that their plan was good.

22And the Gods said: We will bless them, and cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas or great waters; and cause the fowl to multiply in the earth.

23And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and it was the "fifth time".

24And the Gods prepared the earth to bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind; and it was so, as they had said.

25And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth the beasts after their kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind; and the Gods saw they would obey.

26And the Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness; and we will give them dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.

28And the Gods said: We will bless them. And the Gods said: We will cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29And the Gods said: Behold, we will give them every herb bearing seed that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it; yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be for their meat.

30And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, behold, we will give them life, and also we will give to them every green herb for meat, and all these things shall be thus organized.

31And the Gods said: We will do everything that we have said, and organize them; and behold, they shall be very obedient. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and they numbered the "sixth time".

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But we also know from the 1931 statement that the Church has no doctrine either on the existence of preAdamites so they are certainly not precluded.

You mean this statement...?

It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declared that Adam was “the first man of all men” (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our Heavenly Father.
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