Old Testament Issues that Unnecessarily Challenge Faith

Jeff discusses several issues: the flood, Jonah & the whale, Genesis’ creation account, and others.

The Bible is similar to a library. Lots of books there. Lots of books from different genres or styles there. Not all the books are historical non-fiction. Same with the Old Testament.

Some in the Old Testament is poetry. Some is parable. Some is absolute history. But not all is absolutely historical.

Did the Good Samaritan story really happen in the New Testament? Probably not.

Did Jonah really get swallowed by and remain in the belly of the whale? For three days? Almost certainly not.

Ben Spackman is a helpful source on this topic:

Misreading the Bible

I recently discovered Gospel Tangents YouTube channel. The host, Rick, finds terrific scholars. Ben shares very helpful insights.

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For millennia, mankind believed the earth was flat. Does the Bible support that view?

Ben Spackman says yes. We’ll talk about a biblical world view, and how we’ve come around to believe the earth is round, rather than flat. Check out our conversation…

The Book of Genesis describes the creation of the earth in 7 days. Can that be interpreted through a scientific viewpoint?

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Ben Spackman will answer that question. Check out our conversation…

Was Jonah really in the belly of a great fish for 3 days?

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I learned quite a bit about the forward-thinking Pres. McKay:

Pres. Smith was a wonderful prophet, but not a scientist. A very literal thinker.

Bible: divine, human book

I like Michael Heiser’s — not a Mormon, but a believing Christian scholar — view that accounts for the data.

He doesn’t get pigeonholed on how he must think or not think about scripture.  It’s not a choice between these 2 options:  1)  Moses wrote the Torah or 2) The first 5 books of “Moses” are a lie and deception.

He says he believes the Bible is a “divine, human book.” You need both adjectives, not 1 adjective. Smart dude. Speaks like a Latter-day Saint!

Listened to this yesterday:

From LDS scholar, Ben Spackman:

Episode 45: Misunderstanding the Bible – Benjamin Spackman

More from Ben:

Episode 71: Genesis 1 – Benjamin Spackman


Michael Heiser explained how the Old Testament was formed. Lots of editing, redacting, “errors”, etc.

Shouldn’t be a surprise, really.  Languages evolved. So did the text.

Bible “Criticisms” and Who Wrote it?

Is the Bible perfect?  Written with God’s breath?

Or did human prophets and editors write and in some cases rewrite the Bible?

Latter-day Saints believe what is true: the latter.  Scholars have manuscripts and can use historical methods to understand the development of and changes to the biblical scriptures.

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Gotta give lots of credit to those over at LDS Perspective Podcasts.  They’ve lined up many wonderful LDS scholars on this and other topics.

The first podcast below — with Ben Spackman — says the following:

“It would be more helpful to approach the Bible as if it were a library that contained books of many different genre instead of being all the

same type of writing. No Christian would presume to label all scripture as parable. Likewise all scripture should not be labeled as history. The Bible contains books of satire, law codes, poetry, parables, myth, conquest narratives, and prophetic revelation among other things.”

Episode 45: Misunderstanding the Bible – Benjamin Spackman

You won’t think of Job the same way after this podcast:

Episode 52: The (Im)patient Job – Michael Austin

An analogy Julie likes to use is that to her, Mark is the stake president in California who lets a homeless family sleep in the cultural hall because he’s not much of a rule-follower kind of a guy; whereas Matthew and Luke work for CES in Salt Lake and wear a suit and would never dream of breaking a rule.

Episode 61: Mark’s Human Portrait of Jesus – Julie M. Smith

In this episode, Dr. Barlow discusses factors in the nineteenth century that changed how scholars interpreted the Bible, including the introduction of historical criticism.

Episode 69: Introduction to Higher Biblical Criticism – Philip Barlow

Who really wrote the first 5 book of the Old Testament, including Genesis?  Moses?  Or a group of editors?

Episode 70: The Documentary Hypothesis – Cory Crawford

In this episode, Ben discusses what many scholars believe the priestly scribes were writing about in the book of Genesis.

Episode 71: Genesis 1 – Benjamin Spackman

James L. Kugel is an orthodox Jew and biblical scholar who became somewhat legendary for revisiting ancient paradigms. When he taught at Harvard, one of Kugel’s students said the professor began a course by offering a disclaimer to the class: “If you come from a religious tradition upholding the literal truth of the Bible, you could find this course disturbing.”

Kugel tells the MIPodcast that isn’t exactly the case—there’s much more to the story. This episode is about religious faith and critical biblical scholarship.

How early Christians interpreted the Bible, with Peter Martens:

Martin Tanner discusses papyrus, the NT manuscripts, and the resurrection below:


Compatibility: Science, Evolution, and LDS Thought

Does the Church take an official position on Evolution?  Nope.

Let’s all remain open and humble in our pursuit of all kinds of truths. And let scientists do Science. After all, we have nothing to fear from discovery in any field.

Living the restored Gospel principles saves us.  Scientific principles — even established ones — don’t exalt anyone.  But it doesn’t hurt to understand truths of Science.

Further, there’s so much we don’t know. For example, the world’s best physicists don’t know what light and energy are.  We are only a few hundred years from the Enlightenment. We’re all in the dark to a great degree, and thus must very much live by faith.

Science is only a method, and can ask how.  God answers why.


Read this October 2016 New Era article.  The first paragraph quoted below:

What does the Church believe about evolution?

“The Church has no official position on the theory of evolution. Organic evolution, or changes to species’ inherited traits over time, is a matter for scientific study. Nothing has been revealed concerning evolution. Though the details of what happened on earth before Adam and Eve, including how their bodies were created, have not been revealed, our teachings regarding man’s origin are clear and come from revelation…”

Jeff at Latter-day Saints Q & A shares insight and some history of this subject:

Ben Spackman shares valuable insight with Gospel Tangents:


Interestingly, Joseph, Hyrum, and Orson Hyde believed that people lived before Adam. Among other things, they discussed the use of the word “replenish” and that prophets existed before Adam. 

The Affirmation of Pre-Adamites by Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Orson Hyde

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Dr. Henry Eyring — the father of current Apostle, Pres. Henry B. Eyring — was a world-class chemist and believing Latter-day Saint.  After a full career in Chemistry at Princeton, he returned to Utah Brother Eyring served on the LDS General Sunday School Board.

Pres. Eyring wrote about his world-recognized chemist father:  My Father’s Formula.


A few of his thoughts below:

Some have asked me: “Is there any conflict between science and religion?” There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men. . . .

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A young man once inquired: “In high school we are taught such things as pre-Adamic men, and that kind of thing, but we hear another thing in Church. What should I do about it?”

I think I gave the right answer. I said, “In this Church, you only have to believe the truth. Find out what the truth is!”

Simple, but very powerful ideas.

Steven Peck is a professor and poet at BYU.  Dr. Peck gave this talk at the Science & Mormonism:  Cosmos, Earth, and Man conference at BYU on 11/9/13.

Why Evolution and LDS Thought are Fully Compatible:  Overcoming our Suspicions of Science.

More from Steven Peck:

Episode 50: A Religion of Both Prayers and Pterodactyls – Steven Peck

You should subscribe to these LDS Perspectives Podcasts. Really, you should.


Other books by Steven Peck here:

Valuable perspectives by LDS scientist, David Bailey.

Extreme and atheist scientists are the most vocal critics of religion.  And the most fundamentalist Christians are hostile to science.  We don’t need to take an extreme position.

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw on “Science and Genesis: A Personal View” given at the Science & Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, & Man conference held on November 9, 2013, in Provo, Utah.

Rather than mock the Genesis stories, as many atheist scientists do, Dr. Bradshaw humbly provides his point of view.

LDS Truth Claims on the topic of Science:

Alvin Plantinga is a world-class American philosopher.  Plantinga presents a non-Mormon, but traditional Christian point of view:

William Lane Craig, a non-Mormon philosopher, shares his opinion about Evolution and Christianity in several videos below:

Short answer: No, evolution doesn’t disprove theism or Christianity.

WLC’s opinion: a six-day creation model is an embarrassment


These next two — as the last two philosophers above — are neither LDS.  Though we differ in beliefs about God, they share lots of truth and valuable perspectives!

Bill Whittle (2nd speaker) had a great line about people who say “I believe in Science.”  Bill points out that those people usually have no idea what Science is.

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According to Bill, saying “I believe in Science” is very much like saying this: “I believe in a hammer.”

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Like a hammer, Science is a tool.  A method.  Not a world view.

Watch the video:

Science is awesome, but has obvious and significant limitations.

Not all scientists — especially the new atheists — tell you this.