Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mormonism and the Eden Direction Dilemma

Stand in the place where you live, now face north
Think about direction wonder why you haven't before
Now stand in the place where you work, now face west
(R.E.M. - Stand lyrics)

Where was the Garden of Eden? Genesis 2:8 says Eden was "toward the east." Moses wrote that in the Middle East, so it was east of his position. However, the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, said Eden was in Missouri, a state in the United States of America. America is west. Wrong direction.

If you are confused, check with the sun
Carry a compass to help you along
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around

Was Joseph Smith familiar with Genesis 2:8 though before he chose a location to the west? Yes, and he even preserved it in the Mormon scriptures Moses 3:8 and Abraham 5:8, as well as in the JST (Joseph Smith Translation) version of Genesis 2:8 (2:10). Thus Joseph Smith agreed with Genesis 2:8 that Eden was east, yet then chose a location to the west.

This direction dilemma was presented to Mormons on a discussion forum,[1] and their reactions were most noteworthy and revealing, as they dug-in their heels.

If wishes were trees, the trees would be falling
Listen to reason, the reason is calling
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around

To my surprise, one reaction was that direction is relative and thus America could be east too. However, upon consulting a globe an honest person will quickly find that America is to the west of the Middle East. Saying it is to the east is unnatural as the western direction is shorter than the eastern direction. This is also true with north and south. Standing where Moses was, Eden was closer to the east than any other compass direction. Thus, this consideration is geographical, and clearly not ethnocentric as one Mormon claimed in shear desperation.

Surprisingly, some Mormons have sought to alleviate this problem by claiming the continents were a united supercontinent, Pangaea:
However, if this were true, then the west-east problem is only exasperated as America would be closer to the west and farther from the east. Another mentioned the Bible character Peleg, claiming this had something to do with the breakup of Pangaea during the Noachian Deluge. However the Bible states "in his days the earth was divided." (Genesis 10:25; 1 Chronicles 1:19) Thus it is clear to Bible readers that it is not referring to the continental breakup of Pangaea, and certainly not to the Deluge either. Instead, it may be referring to the lingual division at the Tower of Babel.[2] (Genesis 11:1-9)

It is also interesting that a Mormon claimed that the garden of Eden was global. This is in contrast to both the Bible and Mormon scriptures (Moses 3:8, Abraham 5:8, JST Genesis 2:10) that say it was planted to the east and not globally—that it was a garden IN Eden, not global. It is also a direct contradiction of their prophet Joseph Smith who taught that the garden of Eden was in Missouri, not global. How ironic that some Mormons will so quickly abandon both Mormon scriptures and their own founding prophet in order to defend Mormonism! What a circuitous endeavor.

Remarkably, another Mormon said: "I really don't think it's all that big a deal." However, according to the Mormon scripture D&C 116:1, the Ancient of Days will meet them in Eden. Mormons have been directed to go to the wrong location. The wrong direction is 'a big deal' to sincere seekers of truth.

So stand

Since there is an Eden direction dilemma with Mormonism, how serious is it? Stated directly, contradictory directions are devastating. As the old adage goes, the Devil is in the details. If the Devil dwells in the details of directions, then it is time to discard the directions. Thus, the one responsible for this conundrum must be discarded, leaving us back at square-one with the Bible.

[1] On the Yahoo! Answers forum: Mormons: Eden direction dilemma? http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=ApTNnulR7MhcwFLwI6WbvNbsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20130823081345AAGf8TA

[2] The NET Bible footnote for Genesis 10:25 says:
The expression "the earth was divided" may refer to dividing the land with canals, but more likely it anticipates the division of languages at Babel (Gen 11). The verb פָּלָג (palag, "separate, divide") is used in Ps 55:9 for a division of languages.
The notion that the Deluge was responsible for dividing Pangaea derives from Young-Earth Creationism, and is anachronistic as Pangaea split up long before the Deluge.

Related blog entries:

R.E.M. - Stand video: http://youtu.be/AKKqLl_ZEEY

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