So I was listening to the song Monkey Man by The Specials this afternoon and it dawned on me that I haven’t written a single post on Mormons and evolution here at the Thang. That changes today. (I’m always thinking of how to tie posts in with radio.blog anyway…)
First let me direct you to the blog called Mormons and Evolution. The chaps there have done a fine job covering their chosen subject – so much so that they seem to have exhausted their material as of late. If this subject interests you then you will want to spend some time digging into the posts and discussions over there.
So where do I stand on the subject? Well, as of today I lean toward the idea that the evolutionists are right and that the world largely did come to the point it is at today through evolution. Having said that, I think the part they are missing is Adam.
As I understand the evidence, I see no reason to get bent about the general idea of evolution as a faithful Mormon. Our scriptures and temple narrative leave plenty of room for it as far as I can tell with the several “creative periods” of undisclosed length leading up to the introduction of Adam and later Eve in to this world.
And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters. (Abr. 4: 2)
How long did the Gods brood over this planet prior to Adam’s arrival? — Could have been hundreds of millions of years as far as we know. I have no problem with the idea that God’s organization of the earth used the mechanism of evolution. I’m not sure why any Mormon should.
Now having said that, I suspect that part of the reason some Mormons do get worked up about this subject is because some (not all) former church leaders held very traditional creationist views of the creation of the earth. Of course the problem with that is that most traditional creationist views are ultimately grounded in the idea of creatio ex nihilo (or creation out of nothing) – a doctrine Mormonism rejects.
So if evolutionists have it mostly right one might ask: What about Adam? My current take is that humankind really did evolve up to a point where their bodies were very similar to ours today (a mere 6-8 thousand years ago if you believe standard calendars). At that point the visitor Adam was introduced here. It was the introduction of Adam that started human history as we know it. I believe Adam probably was divine in some sense (our doctrines make it pretty clear that Michael was part of the earth creation presidency after all). Like later angels and even Christ himself, Adam had a very specific mission here. He brought incredible light and knowledge with him – not only the plan of salvation but also more fundamental things like writing, reading, and even sciences I suspect. His introduction to the planet inaugurated the civilized world. I suspect nearly all ancient religion originated with Adam (and thus the uncanny similarities of religious rites all over the ancient world that Nibley and others have written so much about).
Of course this model does entail the idea that Adam’s seed intermingled with the people who were already here – thus the title of this post. (Perhaps this is what the verses of about the sons of God marrying the daughter of men are related to?) Is this really anything to get freaked out about? I don’t think so. God watched over and even guided the evolution of the world until a real form of humankind existed here. Then he sent Michael down to start the Big Play that is our probationary state. Adam and Eve are the parents of all living people both literally and figuratively. Figuratively because they were the planet’s first modern people; literally because their DNA is in every living person.
So why should I care if in addition to descending from Adam and Eve my body also is the product of evolution? Is that something that should bother me? If so; why? I existed before I got this body and I will continue to exist after I leave it. I like the body I got here. It seems to work just fine. And further – it allows me to progress and repent if I choose to. Because of that I just don’t get bent when I get called a monkey man.
[Associated video: The Specials on BBC 1979]