The point of this post is not to give opportunity to arguing whether evolution or no death before the fall (NDBF)is correct. It is not to look at whether S. McMurrin and H. Eyring Sr. or J. Fielding Smith and B. Packer more accurately state the official position of the Church. If you have perspectives along those lines, table them, because those sorts of comments will be deleted here, even if you do have a fancy ™ on the end of your name.
The attempt here is to take the two positions, or for the sake of this post, assume BOTH are true. Then we can look at possible ways that both can work together.
Here are the things I am assuming are true.
1. Life has been on earth for millions and millions of years
2. Evolution occurred, ie, changes in the conditions of life forms is caused by random mutations and the staying power of these mutations is dependent primarily on their ability to survive within the environment they are in
3. God exists.
4. There is Pre-mortal man (and woman for those of you opposed to the term man being gender neutral).
5. There was something which occurred (the fall) that took man from the his pre-mortal state to the state he is in now.
6. There was no death before the fall, ie, man’s spirit stayed in his body.
I think this roughly covers my bases. There is room to play here, but we have narrowed ourselves enough to control for the both NDBF and evolution.
In the past I have seen the following theories:
1. The Fall and the Atonement, while being in time events, have out of time ramifications. In other words, just as the atonement resolved the inability to repent before the fall, so also the Fall created the ability to die before the fall even occurred. This relies on the idea that divinity and divine actions exist in a reality beyond our current conception of time. The pro and con of this mainly hinges around this concept of existence. It is allowable in such a conception for anything and everything to happen without any constraints, and I’ve heard Luke 1:37 used in connection with it. On the other hand, in the LDS tradition, it is connected with a conception of time and space based on a potential misunderstanding of the theory of relativity that allows for traveling backwards in time.
2. The Fall occurred in the pre-mortal world (the world built spiritually in the POGP before it was physically built) Man was transported to the mortal world at the event of the Fall, and not before that event. This gives two alternatives. The world already existed before the fall or the world did not exist before the fall and there was a billion or so year time gap between the fall and the â€œexit of Edenâ€. I find this difference mostly irrelevant. This still relies on God and pre-mortal man existing in a reality that is currently invisible to us, but does not rely any sort of understanding of space and time beyond our current conceptions. This is possibly my favorite explanation, and I would be interested to hear any who are against it and their reasoning.
3. When God finished creating everything up to the level where man was available for Adam, God turned death off, set up the edenic state and things played out as we understand them in the bible. If I were a biblical literalist, this would be my prime choice, but the temple’s creation account has led me away from the concept of biblical literalism. Anyway, some are not amused at the idea of No death, for a while, before the Fall.
4. Physical Man is a special creation of God and is separate from the rest of creation. Some like to point out the difference in the OT accounts between the creation of the rest of the flora and fauna and the creation of man, and that man is in the image and likeness of God. They state that the only common ancestor of Man and the other primates is God, and that he is not really a common ancestor to both, in truth. There have been many combinations of this idea within and outside of LDS thought, but some argue that the genetic similarities of man and chimpanzee knock this one over fairly well.
So, again I want to reiterate, please feel free to given criticism or defense for any of the above four concepts or give a 5th (6th etc) way which evolution and NDBF can work together. Do not, I repeat, do not give an attack or defense of either of those concepts, or I will delete you.