Friday, December 9, 2016

The Ancient Jewish Hour – Part II

Continuing from the last post which ended with an introduction to the Jewish variable-length hours that were variously known as temporal, unequal, or seasonal hours and were in use until the appearance of the mechanical clock, which furthered the adoption of equal length hours—obviously, such changing hours would not have been of any use to the astronomer.
Astronomers in Egypt's Middle Kingdom (9th and 10th dynasties) observed a set of 36 decan stars throughout the year, and such star tables have been found on the lids of coffins of the period. The heliacal rising of the next decan star marked the start of a new civil week, which was then 10 days. The period from sunset to sunrise was marked by 18 decan stars. Three of these were assigned to each of the two twilight periods, so the period of total darkness was marked by the remaining 12 decan stars, resulting in the 12 divisions of the night. The time between the appearance of each of these decan stars over the horizon during the night would have been about 40 modern minutes. During the New Kingdom, the system was simplified, using a set of 24 stars, 12 of which marked the passage of the night.
    But the system to the Hebrews was set, and according to Mark in the Bible, Jesus went to the cross at the third hour, which in Jewish time corresponds to our 9am [Mark 15:25], and according to the Gospel accounts He gave up His life at the ninth hour, our 3 pm. Thus, in Biblical times, the First watch was Sundown to 9 pm, the Second Watch was from 9 pm to Midnight, the Third Watch was from Midnight to 3 am, and the Fourth Watch was from 3 am to sunrise.
    As a side note, a trumpet call, known as the cockcrow signaled the end of the 3rd watch and the beginning of the 4th watch (The end of each watch was signaled by a trumpet signal as Jesus noted in Mark 13:35: “So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming: evening, midnight, cockcrow or dawn.”)
    Sunrise marked the beginning of the first hour (the zero hour), the middle of the day was at the end of the sixth hour and sunset at the end of the twelfth hour. This meant that the duration of hours varied with the season. In the Northern hemisphere, particularly in the more northerly latitudes, summer daytime hours were longer than winter daytime hours, each being one twelfth of the time between sunrise and sunset
The division of the four-watch Roman nightwatch was adopted after Roman occupation began in 63 B.C. However, before the Romans came, the Jews divided the night (sunset to sunrise) into three watches (Judges 7:19; Exodus 14:24; 1 Samuel 11:11; Lamentations 13:35).
    John 4:6, 8) says that "it was about the sixth hour" when Jesus stopped at the well of Samaria and sent His disciples to the city to buy food. Commenting on this experience, the Spirit of prophecy says : "On the way to Galilee Jesus passed through Samaria. It was noon (Hatzot, or midday) when He reached the beautiful vale of Shechem. At the opening of this valley was Jacob's well. Wearied with His journey, He sat down here to rest while His disciples went to buy food.” Thus, it was necessary to go buy food since it was the 6th hour or noon. This is also born out when (Acts 10:9) Peter went up on the housetop to pray about the sixth hour and was hungry. It was noon and he naturally would have been hungry.
    The nobleman's son was healed at "the seventh hour" (John 4:52,53), which was about one o'clock in the afternoon. And "it was about the tenth hour" (John 1:39), or about four o'clock in the afternoon, that John and Andrew stayed to talk with Jesus at His place of abode.
    Ma'ariv or evening prayer began at sundown. According to the Jewish Book of Why, volume I the Ma'ariv is a later addition, instituted after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. The Jewish Talmud records the late addition of the Ma'ariv service which is not connected with the sacrificial system [page 148].
    The pious, for example, had three special hours for prayer—morning, noon, and night (Psalms 55:17; Daniel 6:10). Now it was at these three special hours of prayer—the third hour, the sixth hour, and the ninth hour—that three notable happenings among others took place in connection with the crucifixion of Christ.
He was crucified at the 3rd hour (al-sāʿah al-thālathah), 9 am, when he was derided, scourged, and nailed to the cross; the Sixth Hour (al-sāʿah al-sādissah), noon: The hour of crucifixion. The Ninth Hour (al-sāʿah al-tāsiʿah), 3 pm when Jesus’s spirit was delivered into the hands of his Father; the Eleventh Hour (al-sāʿah al-ḥādiyyah ʿashr), 5 pm,  the sword thrust into Christ’s side—no bones broken, “For these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. . . . They shall look on him whom they pierced” (John 19:36–37)—the Twelfth Hour (al-sāʿah al-thāniyyah ʿashr), 6 pm, the burial—Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus retrieve Christ’s body and wound it “in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury” (John 19:40).
    Josephus says that the priests performed the sacred ceremonies of the altar "twice a day, in the morning and about the ninth hour” (Jewish Antiquities, book 14, chap. 4, sec. 3).
    Good Friday is known among the Copts (the largest Christian religion in Egypt, speaking Coptic, a direct descendant of the Demotic Egyptian language spoken during the Roman period), either as Sublime Friday (yūm al-gumʿah al-ʿaẓīmah) or Friday of Sorrow (yūm al-gumʿah al-ḥazīnah), and for them it is the most solemn holy day of the year. At this time, day-long services are held from very early morning until after sundown and dramatically commemorate the canonical hours of these events as they unfolded that fateful day. Sung almost in their entirety by the ranking officiant, his deacon, and the choir of deacons, these rituals present a vivid musical recollection of those extraordinary proceedings.
    Possibly no other service compares to the melancholy of reliving Christ’s death, which comes as the culmination of Holy Week, or Holy Paskha, which begins on Palm Sunday and continues throughout the week with special services every day. In fact, directly after the Palm Sunday liturgy, the church is draped in black, the altar is closed, and there is no more daily communion for the remainder of the week.
The introduction of equal length hours occurred in 127 B.C. The Alexandrian scholar Claudius Ptolemaeus (left) introduced the division of the hour into 60 minutes in the second century A.D. Ancient Sumer and India also  divided days into either 1/12 of the time between sunrise and sunset, or 1/24 of a full day. In either case the division reflected the widespread use of a duodecimal numbering system. In China, the whole day was divided into 12 parts. Obviously, the importance of 12 has been attributed to the number of lunar cycles in a year.
    A final note is that the Jewish calendar follows the moon cycle, a year constituting 12 full moon cycles, which takes 354 days. The number 5774 represents the number of such years that have passed since the beginning of creation. It also might be of interest to know that anciently, the Egyptians did not number years, instead, they named them after rulers, thus they were regnal years.
In addition, the Egyptians divided their year (rnpt) into three 120-day seasons of four months of 30 days (hrw) named 3ht or Akhet (inundation), prt or Peret, (emergence) and shmu or Shemu (summer). Akhet was the season of inundation. Peret was the season which saw the emergence of life after the inundation.
    Thus, we can safely say that the Nephite hour would have followed fairly close to the Jewish hour, since that is the time Lehi, Nephi, Sam and Zoram would have known and lived by when coming to the Land of Promise. If so, the “hour” spoken of in the scriptural record would have been a division of the sunlight hours and probably a little longer than the 60-minutes we use. At the same time, Mormon’s comment: “And the king answered him not for the space of an hour, according to their time” (Alma 18:14), 3) seems to verify that information, i.e., “according to their time.”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Ancient Jewish Hour – Part I

The word “hour” is mentioned eight times in the Book of Mormon: 1) Nephi traveled many hours in a vision (1 Nephi 8:8); 2) “And the king answered him not for the space of an hour, according to their time, for he knew not what he should say unto him” (Alma 18:14), 3) Samuel the Lamanite mentioned “for the space of many hours…” (Helaman 14:21); 4) God said to Samuel “there should be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours” (Helaman 14:26); 5) it was for the space of three hours (3 Nephi 8:19, mentioned twice); 6) there was silence for many hours (3 Nephi 10:1,2, mentioned twice).
In no case do we have an explanation of the length of that hour, or the division of how many hours in a day the Nephites had; however, in the Bible, we know more: Jesus answered, “Are there not 12 hours in a day?” (John 11:9). This is understood to mean the working day, i.e., from sunrise to sunset. We learn that “The householder went out "early in the morning" to hire laborers to work in his vineyard; and he also went out "about the third hour," "about the sixth and ninth hour," and "about the eleventh hour," to hire more workers. And "when even was come," he paid them their wages” (Matthew 20:1-12). Evidently, the period of darkness, from sunset to sunrise was not considered the “working day,” but night time.
    The Ancient Egyptians were one of the first cultures to widely divide days into generally agreed-upon equal parts, using early timekeeping devices such as sundials, shadow clocks, merkhets, obelisks, allowing citizens to easily divide the day into two parts, and then into smaller hours.
As early as 4241 B.C., the Egyptians had created a calendar made up of 12 months of 30 days, plus five extra days at the end of the yer. This 365-day calendar was amazingly accurate, however, since the actual solar year is 365.2424 days long, this ancient Egyptian calendar was not perfect. Over time, seasons would gradually shift through all twelve months, making it through the entire year in 1,460 years.
    Despite Herodotus’ attribution of the invention of the sundial to the Babylonians in 430 B.C., the earliest known sundials were simple gnomons (the part of a sundial that casts a shadow) of Egyptian origin invented around 3500 B.C. More complex devices were developed over time, the earliest surviving one is a limestone sundial that dates back to 1500 B.C., discovered in the Valley of the Kings in 2013. It divided daytime into 12 parts and was used to measure work hours. Shadow clocks were modified sundials that allowed for greater precision in determining the time of day, and were first used around 1500 B.C. Their major innovation was a modified, more precise gnomon that allowed for the division of night time into 50 parts, with an additional two “twilight” hours" in the morning and evening.
    The shadow clock gnomon was made up of a long stem divided into six parts, as well as an elevated crossbar that cast a shadow over the marks. This early clock was positioned eastward in the morning, while at noon it was rotated to face west to measure shadows cast by the setting sun.
Using plumb-lines called “merkhets,” the Egyptians could calculate time at night since at least 600 B.C., provided the stars were visible, with two of these early instruments aligned with Polaris, the North pole star, creating a north-south meridian. By observing certain stars as they crossed the line created with the merkhets, they could accurately gauge time.
    While we have no scriptural evidence of this, it is possible the Nephites had one of these Egyptian sundials, or made it themselves being familiar with the concept. We do know that there were ancient Observatories built during Nephite times in the Americas, particularly in Central and South America.
    Among the ancient Jews, it should be noted that in some cases the “day” began from dawn ("alot hashachar") until three stars appeared in the sky ("tzeit hakochavim")—but this might simply be a confusion that, under Torah Law, all feasts begin at dawn, thus the “feast day” begins at alot hakochavim, or dawn, as do all mitzvot associated with daytime hours—such as hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, taking the Four Species on Sukkot, the daily morning recitation of the Shema, or hearing the Megillah on Purim.
    The more popular view and undoubtedly the more authentic was that the Jewish day began at sundown (nightfall) while the secular (Roman) day began at midnight. As to when sundown begins, we might take a look at when sunrise begins. Misheyakir, the earliest time for tallit and tefillin, is the time when there is enough light so that one can recognize a casual acquaintance from the distance of four cubits (six feet). Though it is not stated, perhaps the time of sunset is when one cannot distinguish a casual acquaintance from the distance of four cubits; however, specifically, sehkiah, or sunset, is the moment when the top edge of the sun’s disk disappears from view at sea level.
    At the same time, there is the Bein Hashmashot, or twilight, which is important for some matters and is the time between sundown and nightfall, which is considered a safek yom safek laylah, a doubt whether it is still part of the daytime or the coming nighttime.
There is also Tzeit Hakochavim, or nightfall, which is the point when three medium stars are observable in the night time sky with the naked eye.
    The reason the Jewish day does not begin and end at midnight as does the secular calendar day, is because in the biblical period of the Old Testament, midnight was not a distinguishable astronomic event. In the era before the modern clock, a specific hour of the night could not be precisely known, whereas an hour of the day was easily determined by sighting the location of the sun. Thus, the day had to begin by precise, simple and universally recognized standards. This meant that the day had to be reckoned either from the beginning of night or the beginning of day.
    So the Jewish daytime was divided into 12 seasonal hours, but while Babylonian hours divide the day and night into 24 equal hours, reckoned from the time of sunrise, the Jews division of hours was focused on the schedule of the Tamid sacrifice. (Since there is the approximate six hour lag, technically every secular day corresponds to two Jewish days).
    When calculating nighttime hours, the Jewish practice was to divide the time from nightfall to dawn into 12 parts. And when they calculate the daytime hours, they do so by dividing the daylight into 12 parts. This means that most times of the years the day hours and night hours are different lengths. Defined, the Jewish “hour” (halachah hour) was one-twelfth of the day, or period between sunrise and sunset, called a proportional hour (sha’ah zemanit). Thus, day hours were always longer than nighttime hours in the summer, and shorter in the winter.
Thus, an hour in the Jewish halacha (the collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the Written and Oral Torah) is arrived at by taking the total time of daylight of a particular day, from sunrise until sunset and dividing it into twelve equal parts. It should be kept in mind that many observances in Jewish law are performed at specific times during the day, so the calculation of these halachic times, known as zmanim (Hebrew for “times”), depends on the various astronomical phenomena of the day for the specific locale. Sunrise, sunset, the amount of time between them, and the sun’s angular position before rising are all factors that determine the halachic times and “hours” of the day.
    Thus, a halachic hour is known as a sha’ah zemanit, or proportional hour, and varies by the season and even by the day. For example, on a day when the sun rises at 5 a.m. and sets at 7:30 p.m., one sha'ah zemanit, or proportional hour, will be 72.5 minutes long. The third hour of the day will come to a close at 8:37:30 a.m. The calculation of these halachic times, known as zmanim ("times"), depends on the length of the daylight hours in that locale. These variable-length hours were variously known as temporal, unequal, or seasonal hours and were in use until the appearance of the mechanical clock, which furthered the adoption of equal length hours.
(See the next post, “The Ancient Jewish Hour – Part II,” for more information on the Jewish hour and what hour the Nephites probably used)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part IX

Continuing with Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Earth was changed during the crucifixion and why it was not merely a cosmetic event, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner.
What are the chances that a big bang, that is an explosion out of nothing, could produce an orderly array of billions of galaxies each with billions of stars placed in orderly elliptical patterns? What are the chances that such a random explosion would produce so many energy-filled stars that they can hardly be numbered?  How likely is it that these separately positioned stars would all move in perfect order within their respective galaxies?  What are the chances that our sun and our moon would be positioned so as to appear exactly the same size in the sky?  What are the chances that the moon would rotate in such an orderly fashion that the same side of the moon is always facing the earth?  What are the chances that all the necessary elements for life would be conveniently present on the third planet from our sun in our solar system?  What are the chances that the carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and other atoms would spontaneously erupt into the first living organism? 
What are the chances that millions upon millions of years, as the evolutionists claim, could transform such a basic form of life into a being as complicated and organized as a fish, let alone a reptile, bird, mammal, or human being?  What are the odds of all of these coincidences when taken collectively?  What if we multiply the probabilities of all of these miraculous coincidences?
    In addition, what are we to make of scientists who would have us believe this sequence of events?  Should we honor their wisdom, knowledge, and powers of deductive reasoning?  Do they have the most believable story?  Does their position make the most sense?  We are left to conclude that these thinkers may be great scientists, but they are poor mathematicians.  They may be great at comparative anatomy, but they are lousy at statistics.  They excel in discussing possibilities, but fail miserably in understanding probabilities.
    Doesn’t it take a lot of faith to believe such a story?  The rigid scientist disregards religious ideas because they are based on faith. They mock the idea of a supernatural being. Yet, we may fairly ask—“What takes more faith?”  Certainly, it takes a lot of faith in coincidence, chance, randomness, and dumb luck to believe a sequence so unlikely. 
If an alien race visited our planet and saw an automobile but no humans, would they return home with the tale that on earth, the iron ore, nickel, aluminum, copper, rubber trees, components of fiberglass, cow skins that make up leather, hydrocarbons which make up plastic, and crude oil that makes up petroleum had spontaneously evolved into a car?  Would they explain that the process involved matchbox cars evolving into larger plastic cars which later developed self-propelling engines, power steering, disc brakes, and GPS navigation systems?  Would they estimate the process to have taken several billions of years?  Would they be esteemed as the greatest astronaut-scientists of their planet? 
    Which is more complicated—an automobile or the human body?  Which is more likely to arise by pure chance alone?  Which is more ridiculous to believe—that all this structure, organization, and order is a product of eons of time—or to believe that an omniscient being, a supreme and ultimate scientist, has control over the entire universe and all the life-forms in it? 
    Indeed, all the believers in a supreme intelligence should bend the knee, take off the hat, and honor the evolutionary scientists who demonstrate more faith, more belief in the unbelievable, more hope in the invisible, more confidence in the impossible than any believer in God ever could.  They have more to teach us about believing in the unlikely than any religion.  They have grasped the unreachable, accepted the unthinkable, and rejected the most plausible.  We stand in awe of them; we honor their great and unequalled exercise of faith. 
As Elder Russel M. Nelson has said, “My long road to become a doctor of medicine was only the beginning. After that came years of hospital work, research, specialty training, and certifying examinations. Then followed many years of teaching, service, and the challenges of the newly emerging field of open-heart surgery, all of which brought me to a profound reverence for the structure and function of the human body. I was convinced that its creation was divine…Scientists in many disciplines observe similar manifestations of law and order, whether in the predictability of the tides, the phases of the moon, or the location of stars in the sky. Such law and order undergird all creation. Those laws can be discovered and defined. Their consequences can be measured. Such order bears witness of a Supreme Creator (Russell M. Nelson, “Faith in Jesus Christ,” Ensign, March 2008, p25,27).
    Alma put it this way to Korihor: “Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).
    Surely the signs are there for all to see and to try and understand.
    This earth on which we dwell is an individual planet occupying a unique place in space. But it is also part of our solar system, an orderly system with eight other planets, asteroids, comets, and other celestial bodies that orbit the sun. Just as the earth is a planet in its own right, so each of us is an individual in our own sphere of habitation. We are individuals, but we live in families and communities where order provides a system of harmony that hinges on obedience to principles. Just as order gave life and beauty to the earth when it was dark and void, so it does to us. Obedience helps us develop the full potential our Heavenly Father desires for us in becoming celestial beings worthy someday to live in His presence (Conference Report, April 1999, p47).
    In Genesis 1:12 we find: "And God saw that it was good." This as before the Fall. To understand the Fall, we need to understand what existed prior to that moment, so we can comprehend what took place and what is meant by the word Fall. First of all, Parley P. Pratt makes it quite clear when he said, “We can never understand precisely what is meant by restoration, unless we understand what was lost or taken away."
And then he describes how the earth was pronounced very good. Paarley P. Pratt describes what he surmises may have been the glory of the Creation: "From this we learn that there were neither deserts, barren places, stagnant swamps, rough, broken, rugged hills, nor vast mountains, covered with eternal snow; and no part of it was located in the frigid zone so as to render its climate dreary and unproductive, subject to eternal frost, or everlasting chains of ice. The whole earth was probably one vast plain, or interspersed with gently rising hills and sloping vales, well calculated for cultivation." (A Voice of Warning, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1978, pp83, 84)
    In addition, Harold B. Lee said, “Besides the Fall having had to do with Adam and Eve, causing a change to come over them, that change affected all human nature, all of the natural creations, all of the creation of animals, plants-all kinds of life were changed. The earth itself became subject to death, that it might be cleansed likewise. How it took place no one can explain, and anyone who would attempt to make an explanation would be going far beyond anything the Lord has told us. But a change was wrought over the whole face of that creation, which up to that time had not been subject to death; and from that time henceforth all in nature was in a state of gradual dissolution until mortal death was to come, after which there would be required a restoration in a resurrected state" (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1996, p34).
    It is not difficult, then to see that the Earth, from its creation to its current existence follows a form—albeit a very complex one. It was not an accident of nature, but put together by the Gods.
And when, during the crucifixion, we learn of the destruction in the land of Promise, we see how it was taken apart, so mountains could collapse and valleys could be raised into new mountains, “whose height is great.” Like all things, the complexity of all these events is awe-inspiring and involved the full attention of the Gods to organize and reconstruct this part of the planet. Someday, when we know exactly how this was done, we will be even more astounded at the ability needed to perform such assignments. What we do know, however, is that nothing happens accidentally, nothing is a surprise to the Gods, nothing is unknown. There is a Plan and it is carried out, and in a specific manner, and in the scriptural record we are told far more than most have yet grasped and understand.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part VIII

Continuing with Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Earth was changed during the crucifixion and why it was not merely cosmetic damage, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner.
 Abrahem 4:18: the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed. The scriptures not only tell us who created the universe, they tell us how it was done. Matter from decaying planets and random orbs are not brought to this solar system by a huge spaceship freighter. 
There were no cranes or heavy equipment. God has a much more impressive method of controlling the universe. He commands the elements to do something and they do it. The power of the priesthood controls the very elements. Somehow the spoken word of God requires the matter to move, to reshape, to organize, but it is the actual power of his voice which is the active force.
    For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God. Yea, behold at his voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake. And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley. Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake; Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center. Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved. Yea, if he say unto the earth—Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours—it is done; And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun. And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep—Be thou dried up—it is done. Behold, if he say unto this mountain—Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up—behold it is done.” (Helaman 12:8-17)
The Abraham version of creation reminds us of this important principle. How fast does this take place? The waters divided “even as they ordered” it (v. 7).  The elements of the earth organized in preparation for the planting of seeds “even as they ordered” (v. 11). In this one verse only, we find the Gods waiting for their commands to be carried out, they “watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.” Most of the time, it was done “as they spake,” but when reorganizing the lights in the heavens, ordering the solar system, and placing the sun and moon in their perfect positions, apparently it takes a bit more time.
    It must be terribly frustrating for God to see that although his commands are obeyed instantly everywhere in the universe, man continues to defy his commands. In heaven, his commands are obeyed; in creation, his commands are obeyed; on earth, the pride of man disobeys the God of the universe. Such a sobering thought reminds us how very merciful God is with us. He has the power to destroy anything that doesn’t obey his commands, and yet his arm is stretched out to his rebellious children, inviting them to be obedient as the dust of the earth! (Helaman 12:7)
• Abraham 4:26: Let us go down and form man in our image. Of this, Erastus Snow has said, “This rendering of this first chapter of Genesis is sustained by the writings of the Apostle Paul, when he says: “For of Him”—speaking of the Only Begotten—“and through Him, and for Him, are all things.” Again, it is written in the New Testament concerning the Savior, that He is “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” So that when the Father said unto His Son in the beginning, let us make man in our image and after our likeness, it conveys to us the idea that man was organized in the same form and general appearance of both the Father and the Son. This especially in relation to the man himself; for you will remark the wording of the text which we have read—“in the image of God created He him”—referring to Adam—“male and female created He them.” (Journal of Discourses, 26:213-4)
Abraham 4:27 in the image of the Gods… male and female to form they them. Up until now we have defined the term Gods as referring to Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael, as well as others who assisted in the work. Here, in verse 27, we need to look further into this. Thus, if Adam and Eve were made in the image of the Gods, “male and female,” then there must have been female Gods in whose image Eve could be made. Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “It takes both male and female to make the complete image of God” (Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1989, p71). Erastus Snow has added, “You will remark the wording of the text which we have read—“in the image of God created He him”—referring to Adam—“male and female created He them.” You will perceive a difference in the language in regard to the creation of females.”
    Now, it is not said in so many words in the Scriptures, that we have a Mother in heaven as well as a Father. It is left for us to infer this from what we see and know of all living things in the earth including man. The male and female principle is united and both necessary to the accomplishment of the object of their being, and if this be not the case with our Father in heaven after whose image we are created, then it is an anomaly in nature. But to our minds the idea of a Father suggests that of a Mother: As one of our poets says: “In the heavens are parents single? No; the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal Tells me, I've a Mother there.”
    Hence when it is said that God created our first parents in His likeness—“in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them”—it is intimated in language sufficiently plain to our understanding that the male and female principle was present with the Gods as it is with man. It needs only a common understanding of the organism of man and of all living creatures, and the functions of this organism to show the primary object of the Creator, and that is the multiplication of the species, the fulfillment of the commandment given, to multiply and replenish the earth, given to both man and beast (Journal of Discourses, 26:214).
• Abraham 4:31 the Gods said: We will do everything that we have said, and organize them; and behold, they shall be very obedient. James E. Faust has said, “The earth itself…was formed out of matter and in the beginning was empty, desolate, and dark. Then came order as God commanded that the light should be divided from the darkness. God’s command was obeyed, and the earth had its first day, followed by its first night. Then God ordered the creation of the atmosphere. He organized the sun, the moon, and the stars to shine in their appropriate times and seasons. After a series of commands and obedience to commands, the earth not only became habitable but beautiful.”
    From Moses we learn that “God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also” (Genesis 1:16). However, at the time God made our earth, the stars had already been created. That is why the temple version states that at this time He caused the stars to appear in the heavens, or as the Abraham version states, "they set the stars also" (Abraham 4:16).
    On this matter, Charles W. Penrose, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles just after the turn of the 20th century, has said of the stars, “It is not to be understood that they were for the first time brought into being, but that they were disclosed to this globe, and their influence was brought to bear upon it by the clearing away of the dense mists that had surrounded this planet. (“The Age and Destiny of the Earth,” Charles W. Penrose, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and President of the European Missions, Improvement Era, Vol. Xii. April, 1909, No. 6). Hugh Nibley added, “We can see lots of stars, and we can see out 15, maybe 20 billion light years with new telescopes and all the marvelous things, but they say we see less than one percent of what's really there. (Teachings of the Book of Mormon—Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988—1990 [Provo: FARMS 87).
Brother Jake Garn (left), former U.S. senator from Utah, traveled into space as a Payload Specialist with a team of American astronauts aboard the April 1985 Discovery space flight. Recalling the view they had of the enormity of the heavens from the space shuttle Discovery, he commented that to orbit the earth is to recognize that we are all children of God and that the earth operates in obedience to God’s laws. He spoke also of the magnificent beauty of the earth from space and that it is absolutely breathtaking.
(See the next post, “Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part VII,” for more information regarding Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Earth was changed during the crucifixion and why it was not merely a cosmetic event, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part VII

Continuing with Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Earth was changed during the crucifixion and why it was not merely cosmetic damage, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner. 
• Abraham 4:20: Let us prepare the waters to bring forth abundantly. Now how hard could it be to make ocean water?  Just toss some salt into the deep and you are done, right?  We could try an experiment in preparing saltwater—take the saltwater aquarium. If you plan on growing corals in your reef aquarium, you find that the system you need is quite involved. For the beginner, the chemistry involved is a nightmare.
Take seawater, for example. The salinity of near-surface seawater in the tropics is approximately 35 parts per thousand (ppt), so 35 gram samples were dissolved in highly purified water, brought to one liter and analyzed. The elements sodium (Na), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), strontium (Sr) and boron (B) were determined with a Perkin Elmer Atomic Absorption Spectrometer. The anions chloride (Cl-) and sulfate (SO42-) were determined by ion chromatography, which would also detect Br- and F- if present. The concentrations of lithium (Li), silicon (Si), molybdenum (Mo), barium (Ba), vanadium (V), nickel (Ni), chromium (Cr), aluminum (Al), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), cobalt (Co), silver (Ag) and titanium (Ti) were measured by Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) spectroscopy.
    Here are a few things you will need to worry about: 1) Seawater is more alkaline and needs to be kept above a pH of 8, preferably between 8.25 and 8.5; 2) The salt content must be controlled at between 30 and 35 ppt (parts per thousand) of salt; 3) The salt composition must be tightly controlled with the correct amounts of the following:  sodium, chloride, magnesium, sulfates, borates, bromide,  fluoride, etc.; 4) Traces of heavy metals are normal for sea water and include zinc, iron, chromium, copper, aluminum, cobalt, etc.; 5) You will need nutrients of phosphates, nitrates, silicates, and bicarbonate; 6) You will need to supplement your aquarium with calcium, magnesium, iron, silicates, amino acids, and fatty acids; 7) You will need to remove toxins that accumulate:  ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, hydrogen sulfide, and heavy metals.
Obviously, believers in the Big Bang have failed to explain how such a chaotic start could produce such a perfect chemical environment. The likelihood of a coral reef developing by chance in the oceans of the earth is about the same as a saltwater fish tank miraculously appearing in your living room.  The successful tank is proof positive of a higher power controlling all the elements and making life possible.  That anyone could believe differently is astounding.
• Abraham 4:24-25: the Gods prepared the earth… and the Gods organized the earth to bring forth the beasts
    Any big project requires preparation and organization.  The creation process is the quintessential project of preparation and organization.  While a bird may prepare a nest and a squirrel might organize his collection of acorns, these activities are more often associated with highly intelligent forms of life, with God as the most intelligent (Abraham 3:19).
    Since all things were created spiritually before they were created physically (Moses 3:5), we see that creation is a two-step process. In a way, the preparation and organization phases reflect the same idea, the spiritual preparation precedes the literal organization. If we are asked to teach a lesson, we must prepare spiritually and then organize our thoughts and write them down.  If we expect to have a rewarding temple experience, we should prepare spiritually before planning the trip.  If we hope to have useful Family Home Evenings, we need to both prepare and organize them. In the church, the success of every organization depends upon the spiritual preparation of its leadership. If the Presidency doesn’t prepare to receive spiritual guidance, they will not be able to organize their quorum or group according to the Lord’s will. Likewise, as parents, if we wish to create a Garden of Eden-like paradise in our homes, we must apply regular spiritual preparation and organization.
    On this issue, Thomas S. Monson has said: “In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, December 27, 1832, the Master counseled, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God’ (D&C 88:119).”
Where could any of us locate a more suitable blueprint whereby we could wisely and properly build a house to personally occupy throughout eternity? Such a house would meet the building code outlined in Matthew—even a house built “upon a rock,” (Matthew 7:24) a house capable of withstanding the rains of adversity, the floods of opposition, and the winds of doubt everywhere present in our challenging world. (“Building Your Eternal Home,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, p2).
    Thus, we see how complex and involved the act of creation is. Hard to image that an explosion of nothing resulting in something would have such organization involved.
Abraham 4:26 the Gods took counsel among themselves: Understanding this principle in the plan of the government of God, we are given a glimpse of the council meeting of Gods, as briefly recorded in revelations to ancient prophets.
    Harold B. Lee revealed for us: “Understanding this principle in the plan of the government of God, we are given a glimpse of the council meeting of Gods, as briefly recorded in revelations to ancient prophets. Under the Father's instruction and by Jehovah's direction, the earth and all pertaining thereto was organized and formed. They "ordered," they "watched over" and "prepared" the earth. They took "counsel among themselves" as to the bringing of all manner of life to the earth and all things, including man, and prepared it for the carrying out of the plan, which we could well liken to a blueprint, by which the children of God could be tutored and trained in all that was necessary for the divine purpose of bringing to pass, "to the glory of God," the opportunity of every soul to gain "immortality and eternal life." (Conference Report, October 1970, p115)
    To this Spencer W. Kimball added, “Before this earth was created the Lord made a blueprint, as any great contractor will do before constructing. He drew up the plans, wrote the specifications, and presented them. He outlined it and we were associated with him. This was probably when, according to the scientist, this earth was just a nebulous mass in space. Our Father called us all together as explained in the scripture, and plans were perfected now for forming an earth.
In his own words: "And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them." (Abraham 3:24-25).
    That assemblage included us all. The gods would make land, water, and atmosphere and then the animal kingdom, and give dominion over it all to man. That was the plan. He gave it all to man that man might grow and develop and perfect himself and become godlike. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7.) And that wasn't by accident, either, nor by chance. God was the Master-worker, and he created us and brought us into existence. The Psalmist in addressing the Lord said, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8:4-5.)
    Man is the masterpiece-in all the creations of God nothing even approaches him. The animals were given instincts. They can seize food, escape from enemies, hide from danger, sleep and rest, but they have practically none of the faculties given to this god-man, to this god in embryo. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1982, p30).
    So we see that God said unto His Only Begotten, let us do so and so; let us divide the light from the darkness; let us separate the waters and cause the dry land to appear; let there be lights in the firmament in the midst of the heavens to give light to the earth; let us create animals to walk upon the earth, and creeping things, and fowls to fly in the air and fish to swim in the waters, and let us make man in our own image and after our likeness—that is the Father addressing the Son, taking counsel together.
(See the next post, “Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part VIII,” for more information regarding Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Gods changed the Earth during the crucifixion and why it was not merely a cosmetic event, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part VI

Continuing with Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Earth was changed during the crucifixion and why it was not merely cosmetic damage, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner. 
All life, according to its commands, reproduces its own kind. People don’t have cats; dogs don’t have elephants; Sequoia seeds don’t grow Baobab trees; carrot seeds don’t produce lilac bushes, etc.

    "The Bible teaches that from the beginning there have been a number of types of living things, man included, which were so created as to remain true to their peculiar type throughout all generations. These types or kinds may be fittingly described as species, but here a word of caution is necessary. Among biologists there has never been any agreement as to what a species is. It has been generally considered that any particular form of plant or animal that possesses marked characteristics of its own and breeds true to form is a species. For example, the fox-terrier is called a species, because it is able to produce offspring like itself. The dachshund, the collie, the police-dog are called species, because they are able to produce their own particular forms. In this way the human race has been divided into several species according to the shape of the head, the color of the skin, the slant of the eye. But such species are not what the Bible means by the word, "Kind." The Bible does not mean to say that every distinct form of plant or animal men see about them came from the hand of the Creator in just the form in which it is beheld. It is not the several types of dogs; fox-terrier, dachshund, that were created to remain the same forever, but the one natural species, dog. The 'kinds' of Genesis refer not to the 'systematic' species identified by men, but to those natural species of which the world is full, which have power to vary within themselves in such a way that the members of the species are not all exactly alike, but which, nevertheless, cannot go out of the bounds that the Creator set."
Professor William Bateson, president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 1914-1927, has given a definition stating that a species is a group of organisms with marked characteristics in common and freely interbreeding. It is not denied by anti-evolutionists, that within a family, or species of animals or plants according to this definition we will find numerous varieties.
For instance there are many varieties of roses which have been cultivated. Some are white, some pink, some yellow and others of varied hues. Some have many petals, some but a few, but the fact remains they are all roses. There is no question that the common cabbage which we obtain in grocery stores, is akin to brussel sprouts and other similar plants, but they are of the same plant family. Field corn, sweet corn, popcorn, are varieties that have been cultivated, but nevertheless they are still corn and will "interbreed." Corn and carrots do not mix, neither do squash and turnips. There are various breeds of dogs, but they do not breed with cats. The cat family, composed of the domestic animal and the wild varieties, may mix. The horse and the ass are not of the same family and while man has been able to obtain from them the mule, the mule is rudely and humorously spoken of as being "without pride of ancestry and hope of posterity." The Lord decreed that they should not mix.
    Thus, the Gods prepared the soil for planting, of specific grasses, plants, trees, fruit, etc. It should also keep in mind that the earth was not prepared at that time to bring forth weeds, noxious briars, and sticker bushes—that came after the Fall.  The idea was to have grass, herbs, and fruit trees. 
    On a side note, the evolutionist, as part of the Big Bang Theory, assumes this explosion resulted in a massive covering 8” deep of each planet with topsoil for grass and trees to grow.
Abraham 4:12, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind. It should be noted that the command of the Gods was for seed to bring forth after its own kind. Now, with all the variety of plants in this beautiful world, it would take a lot of creative evolution to come up with everything we enjoy. 
Actually, the DNA of plants has limits placed upon it by God so that their seeds reproduce the same kind of plant.  Grass DNA and Maple tree DNA do not mix to form giant stalks of grass or tree trunks covered in grass. If there was no restriction placed on the reproductive possibilities, the entire plant kingdom would be chaos. 
    Different kinds of plants weren’t invented for this earth.  They already existed.  The Gods didn’t need evolution to make all the different kinds of plantlife, they just needed the seeds to plant in the soil they had already prepared.
Abraham 4:14: the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven. If our solar system is the product of a Big Bang, what are the chances that the sun and the moon would appear about the same size in the sky? Hugh Nibley wrote: “An astronomer (I think at Notre Dame) recently calculated the probability of a planet in the solar system having a moon (just one moon, at that) that subtended exactly the same arc in the sky as does the sun from the surface of the same planet. The chances are astronomically remote, so remote, indeed, that there seems to be something deliberate about what is otherwise a stunning coincidence. From no other point of view in all the universe will the sun and the moon have exactly the same size.” (Old Testament and Related Studies, edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1986, p75).
According to Vaughn J. Featherstone, of the Presiding Bishopric and later the First Quorum of the Seventy, when speaking of the sun and the Son, said, “Also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made" (D&C 88:7). The sun is 93 million miles from the earth. Imagine the energy that the sun perpetually produces. It takes the light from the sun a little less than eight and a half minutes to get to the earth. What power there is in the sun no mortal can possibly comprehend. Christ's power is not only in the light of the sun—it t is also the power by which it was made. What knowledge must one have to create a sphere as large as the sun and put power into it, not for an hour or a day or one giant explosion, but for time unknown. What creative abilities did this Jesus have who could control the energy of the sun so it would be consistent from day to day, year to year, even millennium to millennium and beyond.”
    To this, Harold B. Lee added, "The sun ripens the smallest bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else to do. We honor and glorify inventors of laser instruments, spacecrafts, heat-seeking missiles, atomic power facilities, television, and a multitude of other inventions. What are they compared to the sun, the earth, the moon, and the stars? (The Incomparable Christ: Our Master and Model, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1995, pp35 - 36).
    Sterling W. Sill, a member of the first Quorum of Seventy, and also Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said of the Sun: “This wonderful sunshine that comes from God contains the many mysterious elements necessary for life. In addition to lighting up our lives, this wonder of sunshine is what gets into our watermelons to make them grow and gives them color. It vitalizes our vegetables and makes the fruits so delicious to our taste. It is interesting to remember that we do not live on an independent earth. If this colorful light of the sun's rays were turned off for just a few hours, no life would remain upon our earth.
    The sun's rays themselves perform great miracles. They come through the frigid pitch-blackness of outer space without giving off their light or heat or color until they reach our atmosphere. Then the sunshine unloads its warmth and distributes its store of vitamins and health to sustain and energize our lives. (Principles, Promises, and Powers, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1973, p89).
What is it that keeps all the planets in our solar system orbiting the sun without careening out into space? Why are all the planets nearly on the same plane in the solar system instead of random axes? Shouldn’t their orbits be more random like electrons around a nucleus? To these questions, Hugh Nibley replied: “The Apocalypse of Abraham, a very early Jewish work and one that has most interesting stories of Abraham, matches remarkably our book of Abraham in many points. God is hailed as the one who brings order out of confusion whenever worlds are demolished, ever preparing and renewing worlds for the righteous. Codex Brucianus says, "Creation is organization." But God is, by definition, the one who brings order into the confusion of the universe, ever preparing and renewing worlds for the righteous… The matter is here, and when you create, you organize it. (Old Testament and Related Studies, Ibid, pp128 - 129).
(See the next post, “Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part VII,” for more information regarding Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Earth was changed during the crucifixion and why it was not merely a cosmetic things, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part V

Continuing with Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Earth was changed during the crucifixion and why it was not merely a cosmetic event as most Theorists claim, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner.
In Abraham 4:6-8, the Gods called the expanse “Heaven.”  The term heaven can have several meanings.  First, it is the place where God dwells.  Second, it is the space above the earth, in this case, the expanse between the earth and the clouds.  The phrase “fowls of the heaven” is repeated in scripture rather frequently.  It is the space between earth and the clouds where the birds fly, “By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation” (Psalm 104:12; Jeremiah  7:33; 15:3; 16:4; Revelations 19:17). Third, the term heaven can be applied to spirit paradise. LDS members know this is not the final habitation of man, and as such, usually do not use the term heaven to describe it.  For the rest of Christianity, however, heaven or hell is the place you go after you die. In this context, it means spirit paradise or spirit prison. The distinction is important because if a Christian asks you if you believe a Baptist can go to heaven without being baptized as a Mormon, it depends on whether you are talking about spirit paradise or the celestial kingdom of God.
• Abraham 4:10, And 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. The waters were indeed Great Waters before the continents were divided. This super ocean would have covered well over half of the planet’s surface.
    According to Parley P. Pratt regarding this scripture: “From this we learn a marvelous fact, which very few have ever realized or believed in this benighted age: we learn that the waters, which are now divided into oceans, seas, and lakes, were then all gathered into one vast ocean, and consequently, that the land which is now torn asunder, and divided into continents and islands almost innumerable, was then one vast continent or body, not separated as it now is (A Voice of Warning, New York City: Eastern States Mission p189).
    In Genesis we learn: “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so. And the water which was under the heaven gathered together unto one place; And God called the dry land earth and the gathering together of the waters called He seas” (Genesis 1:9-10, emphasis added). Thus, gathering together unto one place suggests that the waters were, in fact, in one place at the organization of the Earth. In fact, the waters are obligated to remain in the place and within the borders to which they were ordered.
Take as an example the Red Sea. A grain of sand, the weakest thing possible, curbs the violence of the ocean. For what would prevent the Red Sea from invading the whole of Egypt, which lies lower, and uniting itself to the other sea which bathes its shores, were it not fettered by the fiat of the Creator? And we can tell that Egypt is lower because experience has convinced us of it every time that an attempt has been made to join the sea of Egypt to the Indian Ocean, of which the Red Sea is a part. Thus we have renounced this enterprise, as also have the Egyptian Sesostris, who conceived the idea, and Darius the Mede who afterwards wished to carry it out.
    To say that the waters were gathered in one place indicates that previously they were scattered in many places at the organization, and not necessarily upon the Earth, but within the expanse as well. The mountains, intersected by deep ravines, accumulated water in their valleys, when from every direction the waters betook themselves to the one gathering place. What vast plains, in their extent resembling wide seas, what valleys, what cavities hollowed in many different ways, at that time full of water, must have been emptied by the command of the Gods! But we must not therefore say, that if the water covered the face of the earth, all the basins which have since received the sea were originally full. Where can the gathering of the waters have come from if the basins were already full? These basins, we reply, were only prepared at the moment when the water had to unite in a single mass. At that time the sea which is beyond Gadeira and the vast ocean, so dreaded by navigators, which surrounds the isle of Britain and western Spain, did not exist. But, all of a sudden at need, the Gods created this vast space, and the mass of waters flowed in.
Having gathered the waters together unto one place and caused the earth to come up and become dry [Abraham 4:9-13; Moses 2:9-13), thus in the beginning of the organization of the Earth, the waters were in one place, “in the north countries.” This dry land, or single continent if you will, would eventually be divided in Peleg’s time. Then, as now, the time will come when “the oceans will be driven back into the north countries and the islands (continents) shall become one land again at the time of the Second Coming” (D&C 133:23).
    So we can see that in the beginning of time, when the Earth was first organized, all the waters were gathered in one place, and that place was in the north countries.
Abraham 4:11, Let us prepare the earth to bring forth grass. Interestingly, the Gods prepared the earth to bring forth grass, not just to bring forth the grass. That is, like anyone planting, the ground or soil has to be prepared, tilled, fed, watered, etc., before it is ready for planting. Thus, the Gods prepared the topsoil for planting. This “topsoil” is the upper surface of the Earth's crust, and usually is no deeper than approximately 8 inches. The Earth's topsoil mixes rich humus with minerals and composted material, resulting in a nutritious substrate for plants and trees. It may be one of the Earth's most vital resources, because it represents a delicate nutritional balance that provides food for many of the animals on Earth, either directly in the form of plant material or indirectly in the form of products from animals that eat plants.
The way topsoil forms means that there is a wide range of combinations in terms of the percentages of sand, silt, clay, and humus it holds, with a specific makeup referred to as texture. This is not necessarily bad, because different organisms and plants often have acidity or alkaline preferences and have varying nutrient and water needs. In general, however, experts usually say that the “best” kind is the “loamy” type, which in layman’s terms means that it has a good balance of all components. True loams technically are mostly sand and silt at up to 52% and 50%, respectively, having 7 – 27% clay. They usually fall between 5.5 and 7.5 on the pH scale.
     This brings to mind, and we need to understand, that God has made certain decrees which are fixed and immovable; for instance, God set the sun, the moon and the stars in the heavens, and gave them their laws conditions and bounds, which they cannot pass, except by his commandments; they all move in perfect harmony in their sphere and order, and are as lights, wonders, and signs unto us. The sea also has its bounds which it cannot pass. God has set many signs on the earth, as well as in the heavens; for instance, the oak of the forest, the fruit of the tree, the herb of the field—all bear a sign that seed hath been planted there; for it is a decree of the Lord that every tree, plant, and herb bearing seed should bring forth of its kind, and cannot come forth after any other law or principle. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 1954, p168).
    Joseph Fielding Smith added on this subject, “The Book of Abraham fully agrees and states this fact in very positive terms as follows:
And 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. And 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” (Abraham 4:11-12).
     This revelation was given long before the scientific discovery of the complicated atom with its electrons, protons and neutrons was known. It was far in advance of scientific discovery, yet how true this has proven to be! All of the laws of nature are the laws of God whether they apply to the universe as a whole or in any of its parts. It is true of the electron as well as the atom or the combination of atoms in any of their structures. They are all subject to and controlled by law. These laws are eternal. No man can change a law of nature. If he tries he is not justified. Every plant from the lowly fungus to the mighty sequoia is subject to divine law. The course of animals as well as plants is fixed. Nature bears ample evidence that the law decreed to all living things, that they shall produce after their own kind is a divine law and wherein at any time this law has been violated the violators have not been justified. Commenting on this eternal law, Byron Nelson, in his excellent work, After Its Kind, has commented as follows after quoting Genesis 1:24-25: "The Bible is not a textbook of science. In the first chapter of Genesis, however, because it is a matter of the greatest religious importance, the Bible speaks clearly and finally on a matter of biology.
After its kind is the statement of a biological principle that no human observation has ever known to fail. The most ancient human records engraved on stone or painted on the walls of caves bear witness to the fact that horses have ever been horses, dogs have ever been dogs, pigeons have ever been pigeons, elephants have ever been elephants. The most desperate and subtle efforts of man in modern times have been unable to alter this divine decree.
(See the next post, “Understanding Abraham and the Creation – Part VI,” for more information regarding Abraham’s account of the creation and the principles behind it so we can better understand how the Earth was changed during the crucifixion and why it was not merely a cosmetic event, but a change that was extremely complex and performed in a specific and exact manner)