Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bigfoot! The REAL story behind Cain....

When I was a teenager, I read Spencer W. Kimball's “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” I can still remember being taken aback when I read of David W. Patten’s infamous encounter with “Cain:”

As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me . . . . His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight . . . .” (Lycurgus A. Wilson, Life of David W. Patten [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1900], p. 50., as quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City, Bookcraft, Inc.] 18th printing 1991 p.p. 127-128)

At about this same time, a friend in my home ward in Michigan had just returned from his mission and “confirmed” that indeed Cain had survived the great flood and was currently being hunted by modern man as the elusive Bigfoot. My friend even went so far as to use the scriptures to show me how Cain was cursed as a fugitive and a vagabond for the rest of eternity, and that he would be dark skinned and hairy. He insisted that this was Cain’s "curse," and that the scriptures were clear about this.

Being a naïve teenager, I ate this up and believed everything he told me. Heck, he was a returned missionary, right? At that age, that was like the equivalent of being a Bishop, or at least one of his counselors.

Now, I’m not going to propagate the Cain = Bigfoot theory, because I don't believe it to be true. Instead, I think a review of Cain’s REAL cursing should be touched upon. Interestingly enough, what happened to Cain is quite similar to the oft misunderstood cursing of the Lamanites as recounted in the Book of Mormon.

As a consequence of murdering Abel, Cain understood that he was to roam the earth as “a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that he that findeth me will slay me, because of mine iniquities” (Moses 5:39). It should be noted that roaming the earth as a fugitive was not Cain’s “curse.”

Why would those that find Cain attempt to kill him? Well, because they were living under the patriarchal law of blood vengeance: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6). This law, commonly referred to as the “an eye for an eye” law, was later incorporated into the Law of Moses (see Num. 35:19).

Under blood vengeance, the nearest kin had a right and responsibility to avenge the death of his relation by killing the murderer. Because Abel’s murder was known, Cain realized that it was only a matter of time before blood vengeance took its lawful toll. Is it any wonder that Cain cries out to the Lord, “my punishment is greater than I can bear” (Moses 5:38)?

Since God is merciful, he does not necessarily desire the loss of one life to lead to the loss of another. So he offered Cain two protective elements. First, God decreed that “Whosoever slayeth [Cain], vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (Moses 5: 40). In other words, God declared that the Cain's slayer would in turn suffer the loss of seven lives from his or her family; quite a severe toll. Because the avenger is not to suffer loss under the law of blood vengeance, the fact that vengeance was to come against the avenger contradicted the current system.

The second protective element is that God “set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him” (Moses 5:40). Accordingly, a mark, presumably of darkened skin, was placed upon Cain to visually remind any avenger of God’s decree about the seven lives for the life of Cain. One may speculate that the mark was placed upon Cain at his own request so as to prolong his life. However, Cain’s darkened skin was not his “curse,” but instead was the sign of his curse.

So, what was Cain’s curse? Not unlike the cursing placed upon the Lamanites for rebellion, Cain’s curse consisted of being “shut out from the presence of the Lord” (Moses 5:41). Indeed, Cain declared that God had “driven me out this day from the face of the Lord, and from thy face shall I be hid” (Moses 5:39). The Lord's presence is routinely equated with the temple and other holy sanctuaries or geographical locations; consequently, Cain essentially had his temple recommend revoked so that he could not access the Lord any longer.

Similar to Cain, a dark skin was placed upon the Lamanites as a sign of their curse, but did not necessarily represent the curse itself. If you read the text of 2 Nephi 5:20-21 closely, you will see that the curse placed upon the Lamanites was being “cut off from the presence of the Lord,” or, in other words, having access to the temple restricted. The Lamanites' darkened skin served to distinguish themselves from the Nephites in order to keep the unbelievers and believers from mixing (see 2 Nephi 5:22-23).

That the darkened skin was only a sign of the curse and not the curse itself, is further emphasized later in the BofM when the curse was removed from a certain group of Lamanites after the conversion of King Lamoni’s father and his people throughout seven lands. “The king and those who were converted were desirous that they might have a name, that thereby they might be distinguished from their brethren” (Alma 23:18)(emphasis added). In a clear allusion to the temple, the “new name” that they received was Anti-Nephi-Lehi. Thus, after returning to the temple (i.e., God’s presence), Mormon explains that “the curse of God did follow them no more” (Alma 23:20). Once the curse was removed, it should eb noted that no mention is made of any alteration in skin color. Instead, the converted Lamanites were once again allowed access to the Lord's temple.

**********

As a last side note on the demise of Cain, I also do not believe, as some Mormon myths purport, that Cain is an immortal being and thus roams the earth today. As extrapolated from the apocryphal Book of Jubilees, Hugh Nibley reports that Cain was killed when his stone house fell on him. “For with a stone he had killed Abel, and by a stone was he killed in righteous judgment” (Hugh Nibley, “Temple and Cosmos,” pg 223, quoting Jubilees 4:31). Nibley also taught that Lamech, Cain's great-great-great-grandson, may have killed him and thus ascended to the title of Master Mahan (Moses 5:47-49).

20 comments:

Jason said...

Great article! it is important to realize the difference between the "sign of the curse" and the "curse" itself. The curse is still alive today for those that choose to separate from God, and like the Amlicites in Alma 3, many choose to mark themeselves.

Hans said...

Freaking sweet. How long did it take you to do that on photoshop? Or was that the real picture?

Jeremy said...

Thanks for the comment, Jason. Unfortunately, too many "active" members of the Church get confused about the dark skin/curse issue. When put into the context of losing your temple privileges, the curse becomes very real to all of us today.

Hans, no photoshop here. I found the pic online - but I have an educational fair use defense.

Anonymous said...

I met Bigfoot once and seemed like a pleasant enough fellow. He told me that he enjoys a good game of chess from time to time and enjoys cheese puffs. ;)

Anonymous said...

It pains my heart to hear that people believe that Cain's mark was dark skin! Where is the backup? What does the source say? How would dark skin be a mark so that people wouldn't seek to kill him? Was everybody out killing everyone else, then would say, "hey don't kill the black guy, that must be Cain!" Give me a break. :(

Daniel said...

One question though...Do you believe David W. Patten and also Spencer W. Kimball? You never gave a reason why what Elder Patten said could not have been true..

Jeremy said...

Daniel, I'm not sure what to take from the story, except that it has garnered one of the most popular Mormon myths. Truth be told, the quote was given by a man who quoted a book by another man that included a letter from yet another man. As a lawyer, this is textbook hearsay and should not be relied upon. Regardless, the quote certainly is not scripture - the only writing that we can honestly be held to a standard by.

No one has claimed our apostles to be inerrant - whether it be Kimball or Patten. To the contrary, many have been mistaken on various occasions. One example is where Joseph Fielding Smith emphatically stated that man would never go to the moon because it was not in God's plan. Not but 10 years later did man step foot on the moon.

In short, I believe the apostles' words when they speak for the Lord. I don't believe that this quote in Kimball's book was meant to set doctrine for the Church, but likely to simply emphasize a point instead. If Elder Patten's account was true, so be it. But if not, it makes no difference to the point of my post.

Thanks for stopping by.

Daniel said...

I understand you, Jeremy. while I am not a lawyer, I know that hearsay is more often than not, just that, hearsay. I guess I never understood it was so far removed from the "primary source"- that someone quoted something that was quoted by someone else, that sort of thing.

Thanks for the informative posts. I will keep stopping by every now and again!

Trevor said...

Actually I've read the primary source and it is quoted correctly in the MoF by Kimball. The original letter was written by Abraham Smoot or to him (i don't recall exactly a this point) and is kept in the special collections section in the BYU library. To be honest, I don't know what to make of it either. I speculate that this encounter if genuine may be similar to what Nibley calls the giants that persist through history and are hunted and killed by the heroes of almost every culture (think Beowulf and Grendel, Odysseus and Cyclops). Nibley suggests that these man-creatures are consumed with wrath, bloodthirsty, and tormented beings. IF that's true!? then these beings would indeed be rightly called cursed.

I found Jason's comment very interesting. So the curse being alive today and people marking themselves... tattoos? more than one earring? other body piercings? body scarring? teenage cutting? the Hindu tilak?-- which is really interesting after reading Alma 3:4,13. Can anyone think of other possibilities or want to weigh in on these... personally the idea of mob/gang tats seems pretty believable as a sign of the curse, my co-worker with a tweetie bird on her ankle? not so much; but what do i really know about her or why someone would feel compelled to mark themselves without even realizing the (possible) true purpose of it.

Jeremy said...

Interesting thought about purposefully marking yourself, Trevor. In some cultures, however, tattoos, the length of one's hair, and even multiple body piercings can be considered a sign of religious devotion and piety.

That said, I'm not sure that is is neccesary for one to mark themselves on the outside, as much as they do on the inside. It may have had a more literal meaning back then. A "skin of blackness" very well could have signaled tattooing of some kind.

Trevor said...

Jeremy,
That's what is really interesting about Jason's idea. Alma 3 indicates that the people had a knowledge of the truth and turned away from God in "open rebellion" and then unaware that they were fulfilling the prophesy of the curse that falls on such people they marked themselves. I'm not convinced that tattoos, piercings or long hair in some cultures is not a sign of the curse (or even at this point that it is a sign of the curse ;) I'm looking for arguments for and against, I guess) A culture, take India as a possible example, could have and probably did have the truth taught to them at some point in their history. Perhaps the people turn away from God in open rebellion like the Amlicites did and then mark themselves in the forehead fulfilling the inner curse with the outward sign. Their descendants continue the practice unaware of the original reason and it becomes a tradition no longer associated with the [possible] origin of the curse-- or perhaps still indicative of the curse continuing with that people since they have not yet accepted Christ as the Truth and taken his name again as "the only name whereby salvation cometh." The argument could be made convincingly both ways. Which to me is very interesting. Which one of the two or three possibilities is actually occurring in our world today. You know?

Trevor said...

I guess my comments were too un-PC. Oh well. I killed another thread instead of reviving it.

To Anonymous,
If you happen to read this after such a long time in between question and answer:

"It pains my heart to hear that people believe that Cain's mark was dark skin! Where is the backup? What does the source say? How would dark skin be a mark so that people wouldn't seek to kill him?"

Moses 5:40 And I the Lord said unto him [Cain]: Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And I the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. And Cain was shut out from the presence of the Lord.

Moses 7:22 And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.

The whole issue is explained here better than I could attempt to do:
http://loyaltotheword.synthasite.com/murder-and-punishment.php

There is so much more that could be said here, but the teachings of the prophets and understandings of the Spirit are available to anyone that takes the time to study it out and ask God in faith what is true, not doubting His justice or mercy nor imputing our wisdom for His.

Personally, I feel very blessed to live in the fullness of times and that the Gospel and Priesthood is going forth to ALL the world and ALL the families of the earth. Now, for the first time in history, everyone has the opportunity to embrace the Truth of Christ and receive the ordinances of salvation had in Holy Temples built for that purpose for themselves, their children, and on behalf of their ancestors. A bleeding heart can't change things as they actually were, are, or will be; but a hard heart can reject it.

Jeremy said...

Trevor, your comments did not violate any PC protocol. I just wasn't sure how to respond since I don't have any solid backing for my opionions except for what I stated in my original post.

However, upon re-reading your comments, you said "Their descendants continue the practice unaware of the original reason and it becomes a tradition no longer associated with the [possible] origin of the curse."

This brings to mind the following verses in D&C 93:

38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
39 And that wicked one cometh and btaketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the dtradition of their fathers.

In brief, the Lord instructs us that that there are two ways we lose our original innocence, through outright disobedience, and by following the false traditions of our fathers. This fits your theory, I suppose.

Regarding your most recent comment, I'm still not entirely convinced that Cain's "mark" was dark skin - even in light of the two scriptures you shared. While I am convinced that the "curse" was not any skin coloration, the sign of the curse is still vague to me in what it may entail.

Unfortunately, Moses 5:40 does not describe "the mark" on Cain, and we can't be certain what "the seed of Cain were black" literally means in Moses 7:22. For instance, the scripture does not outright say their skin was darkened; the term "black" could have reference to something evil, not necessarily a skin color.

I guess my point is that there is more about this that we don't know than what we do know. Therefore, I have a hard time concluding anything substantive.

Thanks for the link; I'm going to read the article tonight.

Anonymous said...

ya i met bigfoot and he said that he enjoyed donuts and he loves halo reach and that he said that he met dinosaurs before he said that they tried to eat him he said he got eaten once but he didnt die because he took his shotgun and blew the dinosaurs stomach open and escaped he said that he had a home and that his home was at walmart he goes there and sleeps on top of the shelves he said he somtimes accidently roles off and scares the little children with his big hairy ness ya thats all he said

Anonymous said...

I've seen Cain -- and his pals. I'm not lying. On my honor, the following is completely true. I was four or five years old. It was Christmas Eve night 1967 or 1968 in Algonac, Michigan. In the middle of the night, I woke up as my bed was right next to a window. Winters in Michigan are very, very cold and the cool air coming in the room undoubtedly woke me. I remember seeing a ladder nestled against the outside of the window, which I remember as striking me as odd. My two sisters and I shared the room with them sharing a bed separated by a space between us. As I turned after closing the window shut, I saw at the foot of my bed about seven or eight people who were utterly covered in hair from the top of their heads to their feet. (I didn't look at their feet but I believe it was a safe assumption.) I could easily identify the females in the group and the men. One of the men, however, clearly seemed to be the leader judging by the way they deferred to him. He was the tallest one. All the hairy beings were tall but the men most especially. The ceiling that was in our bedroom was a vaulted ceiling and the men almost were as tall as the ceiling but not quite. While I was only four or five at the time, I estimate them as being at least seven feet tall with seven and a half to eight feet tall not out of the question.

Needless to say, I was stunned. I tried to scream for help but my ability to speak was somehow gone. I couldn't make a sound with my voice of any kind. I remember grabbing my throat and trying to make it work but my efforts were futile. I didn't feel any pain or any "power" upon me but I simply had lost my power of speech. Giving up as to being able to call my parents with a cry for help, I simply looked at them in amazement. They talked together in very low tones that were barely audible. What I could hear was an indecipherable language that held no meaning to me. Not knowing what to do, I decided to "faint" and to pull my mother's homemade afghan blanket up over me. My mother's afghan blanket had interspersed holes due to the knitting pattern she utilized and using those holes I continued to watch them. One of the females on the left side at the foot of my bed noticed it and pointed to me watching them. In truth, they seemed amused by my attempts to feign unconsciousness. One of them didn't seem amused, the leader; the person I believe was Cain himself. He ever so quietly yet deliberately walked to the side of my bed -- on the right side -- as the left side was against the wall and looked down at me right into my eye. The New Testament says the eyes are the mirror of the soul. I believe there is some truth to that. One of the most vivid aspects of this unwanted experience was looking into his eye. While I didn't see malice, I saw curiosity, sternness, deliberation, and a tangible but moderated animosity, which I'm at a loss to explain as I was a boy of only four or five. The best analogy I can think of as to best depict what I saw in those eyes was what a scuba diver must see when he looks into the eye of a great white shark or what a victim must feel when one looks into the eyes of a murderous criminal. Some television shows portray "Sasquatch" as being animal like. I saw no such thing in his deportment. He was not ape-like in his movement or mien but utterly human. His eyes were large given his massive size but it was utterly human. He appeared simply to be a very, very large human male covered with dense hair. The hair that covered his face didn't completely obscure his human features. Nor did it completely obscure the appearances of those in his band in my bedroom.

Anonymous said...

PT. II
I believe what happened next came from the Lord. I was not LDS at the time but joined the church with my mother and two siblings in Nov. 1972 (my parents had divorced by then). A deep sleep came upon me and I do remember a very vivid dream that chilled me, a dream I still remember all these years later. Upon waking the next morning -- again Christmas morning -- and scanning the room ever so gingerly around me, I went to my parents and told them what happened. As I was a little boy around four or five years of age, they ascribed it to youthful fanaticism or a bad dream. I persisted that it was the truth, enough so that my biological father accompanied me to the outside of the house. The ladder was still leaning against the outside of the house that led to my and sisters' bedroom. At the base of the ladder were a number of footprints -- very large footprints that surprised even my biological dad. He, as he was wont to do, proceeded to question what it all meant with his usual profanity-laced exposition, and I remember him saying he knew he didn't leave the ladder there.

After that incident, I had many dreams up until I was in my late teens with Cain appearing to me. They were always chilling with a noticeably and hellish air or feeling tone to them. In the dreams, he would always secure me against a wall and proceed to tickle me to the point it hurt. I know, I know. That is odd but it's the truth. After experiencing these dreams many times, I had one where I was somehow secured in a box with no hope of escape and all the "hairy beings" were tickling me. I had had enough and told them that I'd had it and would no longer tolerate their abusing me like this anymore and to leave me alone from that time and henceforth. It may be peculiar but from that dream to the present time, I've never had one dream even remotely like that since, for which I'm grateful. Why the tickling? This is a belief but I believe it's true but here's my explanation. I believe that when the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon me, Cain (and perhaps the others too) proceeded to tickle me so as to either wake me up or to torment me or both. That memory or experience my subconscious remembers although my conscious mind doesn't and was part of the post-traumatic experience.

Why were they sent to me? What did Cain want? What was their purpose in visiting me? I honestly don't know. I have a few theories but it's that -- theories.

Years later, and a member of the LDS Church, I was reading in Pres. Spencer W. Kimball's book The Miracle of Forgiveness where he recounts Elder David W. Patten's chance meeting of Cain. ((Lycurgus A. Wilson, Life of David W. Patten [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1900], p. 50., as quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City, Bookcraft, Inc.] 18th printing 1991 p.p. 127-128.)

I immediately felt better. I knew it was real for someone had recounted their experience. I understood what he meant that he was massive and covered in hair yet distinctly human notwithstanding the spate of hair.

Anonymous said...

PT. III
Years later, I was talking to my sister in her Brigham City home and carefully brought it up. She seemed relieved that I did and told me she remembered seeing a number of hairy people standing at the foot of my bed watching me. She told me how she remembered how terrified she was but felt helpless to do anything and tried to stay as quiet as possible to avoid harm. My other sister was blissfully aware of nothing and slept through the entire ordeal. I felt relieved and proceeded to talk to her about it at great length. It's odd but to be honest we never talked about it but once growing up and I remember how she didn't want to talk about it then. She pushed me away and refused to talk to me about it.

You may say this was a dream. I assure you it was not. It was reality. Dreams, while seemingly real to the human subconscious mind, have a different feeling tone to them that distinguishes them from reality. I say again, it was not a dream!

Believe it or not, for me this experience was a testimony builder. I've been blessed to have had a number of wonderful personal revelations from the Lord that have given me some peace and meaning to build my testimony around. I don't consider this Cain experience a "wonderful" spiritual experience but an experience of the "dark side" if you will. Nonetheless, this experience that was evil in nature was meaningful if for nothing else than to understand a small bit of what evil is.

I also know there is "more to heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy."

Anonymous said...

why do you morons try to explain the curse has to do with skin. You hauoli's are a joke. reread your scriptures and study like your suppose to. follow the footnotes which lead to the answer. spritual darkness,scales falling from their eyes. You stupid fools.

Anonymous said...

interesting thing about the scriptures is that a lot is left to interpretation.... and although not a bad article it is still one persons interpretation....cain (and his offspring) could very well be bigfoot and then again could not we will never know for sure until more data is collected or a specimen found...so the debate still continues

Anonymous said...

I've seen him -- Cain that is. It is true. here's my story: http://spanishfork401stward.blogspot.com/2009/02/lds-urban-legends-bigfoot-cain.html. It's at the bottom.

BTW, the Hugh Nibley quote is interesting. Remember, apocryphal scriptures are not accepted as holy due to inaccuracies. This is one of those. How do I know? For I am an eye witness to Cain's existence.