It’s a funny thing that we’re always making fun of Mormons for their “weird” beliefs, when our own Bible contains a well-known story far more implausible–meaning both intrinsically implausible and seemingly incompatible with geological and genetic (for every animal species!) evidence–than anything in the Book of Mormon.
So, do I really believe that a six hundred year old guy saved the animals from a worldwide flood by putting a pair of each on a big boat? It’s funny that nobody asks me this, so I never bother to ask myself. Battles over the authority of the Old Testament always seem to concentrate on whether the Earth was really made in six days, whether there was a historical Adam and Eve, and whether Moses really wrote the Pentateuch. So that’s what we think about. The story of the Flood seems to be one where nothing is at stake except the reliability of Scripture (whereas Christian orthodoxy requires some sort of historical Fall in order to make sense), meaning that we’d all be happy to relegate Noah’s ordeal to some sort of allegory. On the other hand, if we take it on ourselves to start saying that this or that part of the Bible didn’t really happen, where will it end? The Fundamentalists are right to worry that this sort of attitude will end up making all of revelation optional.
Probably the Church has already spoken on this, pronounced hellfire for anyone who doubts the tale, etc. If the Church’s enemies start making noises about this issue, I guess I’ll have to read up on it. For now, I’ll concentrate on more spiritually fruitful questions, and I’ll be careful what I say against the Mormons.