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Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Question #90651 posted on 11/22/2017 8:56 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

A seminary teacher once told me that when you see the number 1,000 in the Bible, the ancient Hebrews usually just meant "a lot." That is, "1,000" could just be symbolic for meaning "a lot," the same way some people exaggerate sometimes and says "millions" or "billions" of people attended an event, or so forth.

If this is true, it's very cool. That would mean that the six days of creation (if a day for the Lord is a thousand years for us) really just means that it took six indefinitely long time periods to create the world, not necessarily 6,000 exact literal years.

The problem is, I haven't been able to verify this number symbolism in any reliable sources. When I search online, I just get a bunch of random churches' websites. Is this something that could be verified with a BYU religion professor or something? I'm just looking for some more scholarly proof.

-I'm turning 1000 this year

A:

Dear Millennia-Old Millennial,

After some personal internet searching I rapidly came to the same conclusion that you did. Unable to find satisfactory answers on the internet I went and talked to BYU professor of Ancient Scripture, David Seely (who I probably should've just talked to in the first place).

Professor Seely said he had heard of 1,000 being used as a standard Hebrew symbol for "a lot." He mentioned that the Hebrew word eleph is used for a troop or large group of people. For example, in the Book of Numbers there are two possible translations for a group of people. 5 eleph and 289 people could either mean 5,289 people, or 5 groups of 289 people. Depending on the interpretation, the people counted in the tribe of Israel could therefore vary between tens of thousands to several million.

However, just because 1,000 doesn't specifically mean "a lot" doesn't mean that it is always literally 1,000. One prime example is 2 Peter 3:8. "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Many people take this to literally mean that 1 day for us is 1,000 years for God, but this could also just be a metaphor to describe to us that time is different for God than for us. The church doesn't officially teach either way whether or not the 1 day:1,000 year ratio is accurate or metaphorical. Sometimes such numbers are taken to be literal, such as the Millennium, but sometimes they aren't.

The same reasoning of literal versus metaphorical goes for a day as well. Professor Seely told me that in Hebrew a day can mean a specified period of time with a beginning and an end. Depending on how literal you want to get the creation could have taken 6 days, or 6,000 years, or just 6 distinct periods of time. It's probable that not all numbers in the Bible are literal, but it does make for all kinds of interesting speculation. For example, Professor Seely told me that a biblical scholar counted back through all the lengths of time in the Bible and calculated that Adam was created in the year 4,004 BC. The Book of Revelations prophesies that the Millennium will happen after 6,000 years, so many biblical scholars predicted the Second Coming to occur in the year 2000. Obviously, that didn't happen, but wait! Revelations 8:1 says "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." That half an hour happens after 6,000 years but before the Second Coming. Using the 1,000 years on earth to 1 day for God unit conversion, that half an hour works out to around 21 years, which would set the Second Coming for 2021. Is it going to happen in 2021? Probably not. Doctrine and Covenants 49:7 says "I, the Lord God, have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes." So I imagine that if God isn't telling the angels, he probably didn't leave the exact date as the answer to some biblical math problem.

All speculation aside, there's probably not a hard and fast answer to your question. It is possible that 1,000 is literal, and it's also possible that it's just symbolic. Although professor Seely hadn't heard of that use of symbolism before, he didn't rule it out entirely. Personally I think it's kind of cool that it's possible that a day is just as likely to be symbolic as a thousand years. That means that pretty much all beliefs about how long it took to create the earth can fit inside the church's teachings. Hope this helps!

Peace,

Tipperary

(Who sometimes feels that this semester is literally taking 1,000 years)


0 Corrections
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Question #90489 posted on 11/21/2017 10:38 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Some Mormons say that they love gays, but not gay marriage. How is this different from someone else saying that they love Mormons, but not temple marriage, and that they feel that temple marriage should be illegal? They could probably come up with some reasons why they feel that way.

I don't understand how we Mormons have that (supposed) double standard, where we say we love individuals of another group, but not when they get together to marry. But, then we have our own internal group that we marry, and it would be offensive to imply that we couldn't or shouldn't do that. This is like if someone said they love individual Mormons, but Mormons should not be allowed to marry each other.

-Confused

A:

Dear Confused,

That's, like, not even close to the same thing. Here are three ways those aren't the same thing.

  1. Loving marriage isn't the same as loving people. No matter your stance on same-sex marriage, "I love gay marriage" is a weird thing to say. I don't love straight marriage either. Loving marriage is just a weird idea. However, I realize that you mean that Mormons say they love everyone (including LGBT people) but don't support same-sex marriage, so I'll move on from this point.
  2. Temple marriage isn't the same as same-sex marriage. I don't know of anyone who actually thinks temple marriage should be illegal, so I can't analyze any real reasons for thinking that. However, if we compare temple marriage to the traditional definition of marriage, the only difference is the belief that, if done in the right place by the right person, it can last forever, rather than only until death. Saying that temple marriage should be illegal is like saying "Hey, you think your marriage is valid longer than I think it is, therefore your marriage is completely invalid." On the other hand, Mormons (and other people with religious objections to same-sex marriage) believe that marriage was instituted by God, and that God's definition of marriage is one man and one woman (with occasional, specific exceptions for plural marriage). The Church's stance (paraphrased unofficially, because I don't represent the Church) is that same-sex marriage doesn't fit the fundamental definition of marriage. If someone wants to say that temple marriage doesn't fit their definition of marriage, that's fine, but I don't see why they would say that.
  3. Loving someone isn't the same as thinking everything they want to do is right. I feel like this one should be pretty obvious, but it seems like a lot of people have problems with this idea. If a parent doesn't let their child do something that is bad for them, it doesn't mean they don't love their child. Same-sex marriage isn't the only thing that the Church is counseling us against. Elder Oaks' talk last conference didn't only talk about same-sex marriage; he also talked about non-marital cohabitation, but that didn't get the same backlash for some reason.

-The Entomophagist

P.S. I don't think same-sex marriage should be legal, but I don't think it should be illegal either. In my opinion, marriage is a purely religious institution, and the government has no business saying what it should or shouldn't be.

A:

Dear you,

You stated: I don't understand how we Mormons have that (supposed) double standard, where we say we love individuals of another group, but not when they get together to marry. 

I think that the key here is that we're not talking about a double standard. We're talking about two different standards.

The first standard is that it is our responsibility to love everyone. We don't get to pick who we love. The commandment to love is to love, full stop. Not to "love people who...[criteria]."

The second standard is that it is our responsibility to uphold morality as it has been revealed to us by prophets, scripture, etc. The Prophet, First Presidency and Apostles have made it clear that "Marriage between man and woman is essential to [God's] eternal plan" and that "God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." 

I'm not going to say "and that means that we all have to vote for X or campaign for Y" or whatever, because I don't run the Church and it's not my job to tell people what morality requires of them. We have General Conference every six months where the prophets can teach us about what morality requires of us, constant access to personal revelation on the same issue, and the Church maintains a newsroom and other resources to clarify any positions it considers appropriate as general public pronouncements. 

I guess what I'm getting at is that every person analyzes whether the things other people do are "okay" or not, and then decides both whether the issue matters enough for them to approve/disapprove (versus just not caring) and whether such approval/disapproval should take a particular form (and there's a spectrum of disapproval that can be wide ranging: are you going to frown at someone or lobby the government to make something illegal?)

So, your hypothetical about people who don't want Mormons to marry Mormons:

It's theoretically possible that such a group could exist. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people actually do think the Church's focus on temple marriages (which requires intra-faith marriage) is offensive or inappropriate either because they dislike the way such marriages can grow and strengthen the Church or because they think that it's inappropriately restrictive for a religion to "come between" two people who might otherwise marry. 

I think that one of the crucial things, then, becomes determining where you stand on the morality questions that you face. You WILL face questions about whether to approve of or permit other people's choices. That's a part of life, and even if you have very libertarian political views and think it's almost always inappropriate for government to be involved in limiting people's actions, you'll still come across times when you're being asked to either endorse or disagree with something on a personal level.

What I can say about this is that God knows what actions will and will not lead His children to happiness, and He can guide us as we seek to determine what right and wrong are and how or to what extent we are responsible for encouraging others in living what He teaches us is right.

Sum:

The Gospel makes it very clear to us that loving all people is a commandment. Learning to love people is one of our great purposes on Earth.

Another of our purposes on Earth is to learn to judge righteously so that we can understand good and bad: this requires us to evaluate what we see both within and without ourselves. It does not make it our role to condemn those we see around us, but it does create a responsibility for us to warn our neighbors so that we can all benefit as we grow in our understanding of how righteousness can protect us and make us happy. The proper form for such warnings may vary by situation, and God can help us to know what we should each do to live righteously ourselves and to encourage others to live righteously while also respecting their agency.

Love,

~Anne, Certainly


0 Corrections
Question #90670 posted on 11/21/2017 10:37 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Someone told me that it's illegal in Utah to pass a school bus, even where it's legal to pass a different car, what with the dotted yellow lines and all while driving. Is this true? I thought it is only illegal to pass a school bus when it's stopped with its red lights flashing and its stop signs out.

-Magic School Bus

A:

Dear Ms. Frizzle,

Yeah, that's definitely not true. Here's the relevant section of the Utah Code. Basically, you have to stop if they have flashing red lights, unless you're going the opposite direction AND a) the highway is divided, b) the highway has at least 5 lanes (including a left turn lane), or c) the bus is stopped at an intersection. 

If the amber lights are flashing, you can pass very carefully, but not faster than you would drive in an active school zone. If there are no flashing lights, you can pass them like any normal vehicle.

As always, we aren't qualified to give actual legal advice, I'm just summarizing the code as I understand it.

-The Entomophagist


0 Corrections
Question #90674 posted on 11/21/2017 10:36 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Why does BYU make the Tuesday before Thanksgiving a Friday? Doesn't that make it harder for Tuesday/Thursday classes to cover all of the material?

-Confused

A:

Dear Confuddled,

Actually, Thanksgiving is the only time that a Tuesday or Thursday is skipped. Labor Day gets rid of a Monday, and the reading day gets rid of a Friday, so Tuesday-Thursday are the only class days that you can skip while treating them all equally. It would be stupid to come to school on the day after Thanksgiving, so they move that Friday to the Tuesday instead.

-The Entomophagist

A:

Dear Confused,

I talked to President Worthen at the beginning of the semester and told him I would love to have it be a "Friday" instead of a Tuesday so I could have an easier week that week. We're pretty tight.

-Sunday Night Banter

A:

Dear C,

Besides Thanksgiving week, the only days we miss this semester are a Monday for labor day and a Friday as a reading day at the end of the semester. So we put that Monday and that Friday into our two days this week, and it all works out. Each day of the week gets skipped once.

-Kirito


0 Corrections