Evolution and “No Death Before the Fall” working together

August 21, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 9:59 am   Category: Before Abraham

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 “exit of Eden”. 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.

73 Comments »

  1. R. Gary, my stop watch is running, don’t disappoint me.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 21, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  2. I would actually love to here from R. Gary if he can stay in the guidelines.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2007 @ 11:09 am

  3. How would you guys shoehorn the second half of Abr. 5:13 into this?

    Comment by Kurt — August 21, 2007 @ 11:39 am

  4. because those sorts of comments will be deleted here, even if you do have a fancy J on the end of your name.

    Ummm… Don’t press your luck Jr.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 21, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

  5. Matt,

    What does your last paragraph mean? You first say that readers should feel free to criticize or defend your four suggested reconciliation theories, then you say that readers may not “give an attack or defense of either of those concepts”. How do those instructions jibe together?

    Comment by Geoff J — August 21, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  6. You might want to consider:

    Moses 3:7 – Adam was both the first man and the first mortal flesh.

    2 Ne. 2:22 – There was no death of any form of life until after the Fall.

    Comment by Howard — August 21, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

  7. Kurt (#3),

    I wrote a post about that verse here. (I know you think I am a slobbering idiot, but if nothing else it should give you a laugh.)

    Comment by Jacob J — August 21, 2007 @ 2:11 pm

  8. Matt,

    Perhaps I can offer another theory to add to your list of four.

    5. Another way that NDBF could work with evolution is if the “fall” is not a one time event. If the Adam & Eve story is viewed as primarily allegorical (not to say Adam and Eve didn’t exist, but that the story, as we have it, exists for the purpose of supplying an allegory) then we can view the fall as something that is ongoing. Individuals continue to leave their premortal paradise and decend to this fallen existence (thus they fall).

    In this scenario, NDBF can work well with evolution. There is no death in the place you came from (per-mortal world). Death only exists in the place you fall to (i.e. the Earth in its current state). So, it is true that death existed before my personal fall, but only in a place that had already fallen. Thus, there was never death before a fall. All death exists in a fallen state, and is therefore preceded by a fall in all cases. This would work in the theory I put forward in the post I linked to above (in #7).

    NDBF also serves as an important part of the allegory, explaining why the fall was important and what roll it plays in the overall plan of salvation, which the allegory is trying to communicate. Thus, it could be largely allegorical while still being technically accurate based on the reasoning above.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 21, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

  9. I don’t think evolutionary randomness needs to be an issue here. If evolution were strictly random, the idea that God has a body that looks like ours is rather problematic.

    I think the best explanation of NDBF is something like (2). Fall of all mankind occurs in a pre-mortal spirit world. Plan of redemption established. Temporal earth prepared over period of six hundred million years. Advent of temporal Adam / Eve et al.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 21, 2007 @ 3:43 pm

  10. Kurt (#3) I don’t see how Abraham 5:13 damages any of the now five concepts put forth. Please illuminate your criticism.

    Geoff (#4) I just didn’t want Kristen coming in with her whacky cleon skousen books (I am kidding, I was actually referencing that it seemed like you totally threadjacked Jacob when he tried this…)

    Geoff #5 Sorry, I meant by these two concepts that this is not a place to debate whether evolution did or did not happen, but a place to look for ways that both Darwin and McConkie can have cake.

    Howard #6- I don’t see what that has to do with any of the concepts 1-5 given by myself and Jacob. If you are being namby pamby, please let me know, so I can delete your comments.

    Jacob #8- That’s interesting. It sort of goes well with your perpetual atonement concept as well. I definitely agree with it, but I would say you could agree with it on a combo plate of any of 1-4 above, in my opinion, unless you are ultimately saying there was no Adam and Even “kick off” moment.

    Mark D. #9, I think you are agreeing with Jacob. Am I right?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

  11. Jacob (7), no, no, not a slobbering idiot, not at all. Will read your post and report if no lolz.

    Matt (10), I am not criticizing anything, I am asking for your take on that verse and how it fits into your list of 4 things. Like do you see it supporting your #1 or #3?

    Comment by Kurt — August 21, 2007 @ 5:29 pm

  12. Matt,

    In the allegory, there was a “kick off” moment, and there was no death before that moment. When we unpack the allegory, it turns out there is no longer an Adam and Eve “kick off” moment, but it is still true that there is no death before the fall in the sense that death only occurs in a fallen state.

    I am not sure what kind of combo plate you are talking about, and to be honest, I am not entirely clear on each of your four options. That said, I would not put option 1 in my combo plate because I reject “out of time”-ness. If I understand option 2a, it does not really accept NDBF.

    Option 2b (I think) says that we were all cut off from God and sent to earth as spirits long before we were born as mortals. (This is the idea Mark D is signing up for, not option 5.) I am okay with this idea, but I would never have gotten there from a motivation of solving the evolution/NDBF problem. My only problem with it is that it takes aspects of the allegory more literally than I would. Alma 13 has some interesting hints along these lines though.

    Option 3 also doesn’t accept NDBF, so I am not sure why it is in your list, but the idea of God “turning off” death is not really compelling to me on any level. If I understand option 4, it doesn’t really accept evolution, so I am not sure if it belongs either. But I wouldn’t be putting it on my combo plate anyway.

    BTW, I thought Howard (#6) was saying why your option 4 might not really qualify as accepting NDBF. Apologies if I got that wrong Howard.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 21, 2007 @ 5:45 pm

  13. Matt W.,
    Namby pamby?

    You wrote:
    “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.”

    As the discussion develops I thought it would be useful to consider Moses 3:7 and 2 Ne. 2:22.

    Apparently you disagree.

    Comment by Howard — August 21, 2007 @ 5:46 pm

  14. Sorry Howard (13), I keep waiting for someone to explode on me. Usually evolution deescalates conversations, and I am a little bit gun shy of that on this post. Anyway, what about those scriptures do you find useful? I’d love to have your exegesis.
    Kurt (11) I guess I don’t see that verse having a big impact one way or another

    Jacob: Ok, now I am interested. How does #3 reject NDBF? Is it because there must be absolutely no death before the fall?

    I guess Option 6 would be the BY ALIEN/ADAM theory…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

  15. Matt W.,

    Not really. I see the Fall as an actual apostasy that occurred in the spirit world, a fall in the general spiritual condition of spirit-kind that made a plan of redemption and an earthly estate necessary.

    A fall more than six hundred million years ago would temporally precede the death of virtually everything in the fossil record. Thus NDBF.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 21, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

  16. Mark D., to stick with biblical literalism for a moment, would this apostacy be the apostacy of Lucifer, the serpent?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 21, 2007 @ 6:17 pm

  17. I agree with Jacob–in that a movement to a different sphere makes a lot of sense. What we *don’t* have is Adam’s transgression sending the garden into decay. Rather, Adam is removed from Eden and sent into the lone and dreary world. This could easily imply that the LaDW is always in the throes of death–or, at least, had been for some time before Adam and Eve arrived there.

    Comment by Jack — August 21, 2007 @ 7:34 pm

  18. Matt W., —NDBF as scientific theory can obviously be stretched very far, just as can the theory of evolution (as you here demonstrate). I have no problem with your wild speculations. I see nothing wrong with a little science fiction.

    Comment by Gary — August 21, 2007 @ 7:34 pm

  19. Matt,

    As I said, I may not understand #3 correctly, but I thought this option was suggesting that evolution (with lots of death) went on for millions of years and then one day God set up Eden and “turned off” death. If so, then there was lots of death before the fall; that seems transparently obvious. Am I misunderstanding option 3?

    Gary, you didn’t disappoint, nicely done.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 21, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

  20. Matt W.
    I agree with your goal “…a place to look for ways that both Darwin and McConkie can have cake.” (#10)

    McConkie had this to say:
    “If you are troubled about so-called evolution, and have not learned that Adam was both the first man and the first mortal flesh (Moses 3:7), and that there was no death of any form of life until after the Fall (2 Ne. 2:22) withhold judgment and do not take a stand against the scriptures.”

    Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie

    Comment by Howard — August 21, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  21. I guess I’ll just take my Cleon Skousen books and go home!

    You really should give him a try though, he writes the best romance novels…

    Comment by Kristen J — August 21, 2007 @ 8:58 pm

  22. Matt,

    I am always a literalist where there isn’t any reason to believe otherwise. Surely the text speaks louder than silence. By the same principle, where a literal interpretation is problematic I believe interpretations where events are allegories for other events are to be preferred over interpretations where events are merely fables representative of general principles.

    According to the record we have, Lucifer fell after his plan was rejected. But the primary reason to have a plan in the first place is to redeem mankind from the Fall, therefore I would say that Lucifer’s fall (if more severe) was secondary and subsequent to the general fall.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 21, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  23. I see the Fall as an actual apostasy that occurred in the spirit world, a fall in the general spiritual condition of spirit-kind that made a plan of redemption and an earthly estate necessary.

    I never thought about it that way before. Fascinating idea.

    Comment by V the K — August 22, 2007 @ 4:21 am

  24. re: 15

    That would mean that there is a redemption from the spirit fall. It is my understanding that there is no redemption from this fall.

    That being the case, it wouldn’t make the plan of redemption or the earthly estate necessary.

    Am I missing something here?

    Comment by JM — August 22, 2007 @ 6:02 am

  25. Just a thought…

    Perhaps there was no death “In the Garden”.

    With Adam and Eve being cast out of the garden into the world as we know it, perhaps that means that the state of this world and death was already in existance and co-existed with the garden.

    As far as I remember, the scriptures don’t say that the garden degenerated into the dreary wilderness. Perhaps the state of existance in the garden was different than “out here”.

    Comment by JM — August 22, 2007 @ 6:07 am

  26. Ok, so I sleep, and look what happens…

    Jack (17) That seems to be applicable to 2a, 2b, and Jacob’s 5. I would say all three iterations are acceptable to me, excepting that the 2s call for a moment of Eve’s decision to go for it, whereas in 5 we all decide whether to go for it, So eve need not necasarily be the first to go for it. I guess I see the difference as 2 calling for a spiritual creation where Eden was and 5 not calling for such a creation.

    Gary (18)Gary, thanks for your tacit approval.

    Jacob (19): You are correct in your assertions. So for you it is No Death ever before the fall, or nothing?

    Howard (20), so you are saying if I really want to show evolution is A-ok, I need to show that either Adam was first man and first mortal flesh and there was no death of any kind until after the fall OR I need to show that there are problems with these requirements. Ok, here goes.

    Moses 3:7-

    And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.

    Adam is not mentioned here. If we take the fall literally, Eve was the first mortal flesh. If we take Joseph Smith literally, man is eternal in some form or other (which I’ll leave to the multitude of other threads along those lines to continue the debate on). Further, even if the aboce issues did not come into play, we are left to wonder whether this verse is talking about the spiritual creation or the mortal creation.

    2 Nephi 2:22

    And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

    This says nothing about death, only that all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were. This could have been referencing any number of things, but from context, it seems to reference “a state of innocense”. Further, didn’t Joseph say nothing was created or made, nor indeed can be?

    Even if Adam was “first mortal flesh”, and “first man” and there was “no death of any form of life” (define form of life please?) until after the fall, #1 still works because timelines become irrelevent and before and after are meaningless. #2 works because there is a seperation of the spiritual creation and the physical creation (This works for Jacob’s #5 as well) #3 works if we add a “in this dispensation” caveat. (Which we’d have to anyway, in order to Deal with the God is a man as we are issue.) #4 is probably no longer workable admittedly…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 6:48 am

  27. Kristen J (21) Geoff is a lucky man.

    Mark D. (22) You make me wish I had paid more attention to all your posts at Millenial Star. Anyway, I guess I have not previously equated the fall (the beginning of our mortal, seperated from God state) with our pre-mortal deficiency (the reason the plan was instituted in the first place.) This is an interesting idea, but I’d need some convincing.

    JM (24 and 25)- I’d equate this (your theory in 25) with my #4, that Adam and Eve and Eden were a “special creation”. Can you convince me this is somehow different than #4? And why is it your understanding that there is no redemption from the spirit fall?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 6:55 am

  28. Matt,

    So for you it is No Death ever before the fall, or nothing?

    The rules of this post are that we can’t question biological evolution or NDBF. I’ve stayed within that and suggested a way to reconcile them without rejecting either. Your remark above attributes to me the rules you set up yourself.

    Now, if NDBF means that there was no death for a few minutes preceding the fall, this is a fundamental rejection of what the NDBF folks believe (just ask R. Gary if you doubt me on this). If you make it a few years, or a few thousand, what’s the difference? It is still a rejection of the premise of NDBF. Seriously, if option 3 counts as not challenging NDBF, what doesn’t count?

    Comment by Jacob J — August 22, 2007 @ 9:36 am

  29. V the K (#23),

    Thanks for the compliment.

    JM (#24),

    I am distinguishing outright rebellion from the sins and weaknesses common to mankind.

    Matt W. (#27),

    I don’t think there is enough evidence for this to be a matter of convincing, but there is some. For example:

    And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them; And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship. But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man. (D&C 20:18-20, italics added)

    This is quite different from the typical ‘fortunate fall’ account. Of course I am reading it as applying to the transgression mankind generally, subsequent to the reception of a spirit body.

    Also of note, (1) the name “Adam” means “man” or “mankind” in Hebrew. (2) Moses 1:35 reads as follows: “And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.” Compare Abr 4:26.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 22, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  30. Jacob J: Excellent Point I had not considered. I guess the only difference is that chance did not prevent Death from happening, but God did. You make an excellent point though, and solidifies #2b more solidly as my favorite understanding. I might amalgam this slightly with your #5, but I need to think it through some more. In your #5, Is the significance of the Adam and Eve narative reduced completely to its message to us?

    Mark D.- That’s a really interesting scripture. I am going to have to dig into it and get back to you. In the meantime, what do you do with Eve’s “fall forward” which is fairly important in the LDS sceme of things?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 10:06 am

  31. Mark (#29)

    What evidence do we have that there was any sin or weakness in the pre-mortal life that was forgivable? I don’t recall anything. In fact, wouldn’t D&C 1:31 suggest that living in God’s presence demands perfection? Wouldn’t any sin be looked at as rebellion? I just don’t see how any of that was possible in the pre-earth life. And since any form of sin or rebellion in the pre-earth life would have been made with full knowledge of the nature and will of God the Father, one would be cast out as was Lucifer and his 1/3, becoming perdition – unredeemable forever.

    Matt (#27)

    You state in your #4 that man is a “Special Creation”. What I am proposing is that it’s not man that is the special creation, but the garden. A celestial bubble within a telestial world. Outside the bubble, life is subject to both spiritual and physical death. Within the garden, it isn’t. In fact, you could view our modern temples as a symbolic re-creation of the garden bubble where one goes to reclaim eternal life.

    Comment by JM — August 22, 2007 @ 10:07 am

  32. Matt,

    I guess what I am saying is similar to your #2, without the Star Trek transporter parts. To me it makes more sense to have the garden exist as a bubble inside the existing world.

    In this way, the story is literal and satisfies the need for a redeemer and gospel plan, and satisfies the evolution we know happens.

    Comment by JM — August 22, 2007 @ 10:17 am

  33. Matt,

    I would say that it is an artifact of Brigham Young’s attempt to reconcile the Adam-God theory with the scriptures that has lived on because it makes some sense out of a problematic account.

    There is certainly no first order benefit to becoming “carnal, sensual and devilish”. If Eve et al realized later that due to the plan of redemption the situation wasn’t so bad after all, I would say that is like starting with lemons and making lemonade. The one thing I am certain of, however, is that “transgressing holy laws” is, per se, a bad thing, however inevitable such transgression may have been.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 22, 2007 @ 10:24 am

  34. JM,

    Unless there is evidence to the contrary, I don’t need any evidence for such a reasonable supposition. We are speculating here. If we were all perfect before we were born, why do you suppose we came here in the first place?

    The idea that mankind sins because of the Fall strikes me as a version of the “devil made me do it” theory. Or alternatively, the “let’s break something so we can put it back together” theory.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 22, 2007 @ 10:38 am

  35. In your #5, Is the significance of the Adam and Eve narative reduced completely to it’s message to us?

    I wouldn’t say it is “reduced” to anything. Recongnizing parts of the story as allegorical and interpreting them in that light is not reducing the story, but understanding it as it was intended to be understood. We have ample evidence that that the story is intended as an allegory (as Mark mentions, “Adam” represents all of us). People have different ideas about which parts of the story are also literal (actual existence of Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, magic trees, talking snakes). I think that assuming that the whole thing is a work of fiction or that it is all a literal history are both errors. But, the story is clearly/obviously/explicitely used as a story to teach us about the plan of salvation and its relation to each of us.

    BTW, “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” The possessive form is just “its.”

    Comment by Jacob J — August 22, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  36. JM: I think there had to have been weakness in the pre-mortal life, otherwise, there was no point to having a plan of happiness to begin with.

    It took forever to find this quote:

    Joseph said that before foundation of the Earth in the Grand Counsel that the Spirits of all Men were subject to oppression & the express purpose of God in giving it a tabernacle was to arm it against the power of Darkness.

    -McIntire Minute Book, Lyceum at Nauvoo, Ill., January 19, 1841

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  37. JM regarding your other comment on your point of view being something like #2, that’s cool. My disconnect with that is that it is more along the lines of #2a, which the more I think about it, has a set of problems. First is the problem of whether the pre-man who gave birth to Adam or Eve had a spirit.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 11:17 am

  38. Mark D. (#33) that’s cool. I guess I will probably continue to seperate the general state of man to be subject to the power of Darkness from the Fall (entry into mortal life) but I can see why and how you take it that way. It’s more like we are just attributing the word “fall” to a different point in the narrative.

    Jacob(35)I completely agree with everything you say in this comment.

    BTW- My wife hates when I do that. Actually hate isn’t strong enough of a word…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 11:25 am

  39. Mark (#34)

    Yes, I get that we are speculating. I’m just writing as I am reasoning in my little pea brain ;-). Didn’t mean to come across otherwise.

    My thinking goes back to primary when I was taught that we had progressed as far as we could as spirit beings in the pre-earth life. So, in that sense, I had always thought that we had reached a level of perfection that could not be surpassed without experiencing mortal life. I’ve always imagined that the great council and choice we had to make there was the final test to see if we would keep our first estate or not. I could be mistaken though.

    So, I wouldn’t say that we were perfect. Rather, we were as perfect as we could be in our given state. Thus, the need for earth life, mortality, the fall, and the need for redemption.

    Matt,

    I agree. There was weakness, one of them being the lack of a physical body like God the Father had. Along with that we had free will, but I suspect that the council weeded out those of us that would rebel even in the presence of God.

    I don’t think any of our inherent weaknesses would have surfaced without the mortal experience.

    Regarding your first problem with my 2a, I think that can be answered by postulating that the birth parents of Adam and Eve are God the Father and Heavenly Mother.

    My reference for that has escaped me, but I believe I read somewhere that (possibly Brigham Young had said) God and one of his wives came into the garden, ate of the fruit there which changed “things” enough so that they could “begat” Adam and Eve with bodies perfect, yet susceptible to mortality by eating the forbidden fruit.

    So, if all of this happens within the bubble of celestialness called the Garden of Eden, it could have operated under a different set of laws than the telestial world outside where there was evolution, death, and time.

    Comment by JM — August 22, 2007 @ 1:05 pm

  40. JM,

    The quote you are thinking of is indeed from Brigham Young, but in his view Adam and Eve were the “God and one of his wives” that came down to the garden and ate the fruit. They did this so that they could “begat” Cain, Abel, et al. So it is not quite the same thing that you are advancing here.

    Of course, you could always take Brigham’s system and change the names of the participants, which is what I think you are suggesting.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 22, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

  41. Well, then I guess that’s what I’m doing, although I have nothing to back it up with. It sure would fit nicely if it worked that way.

    Comment by JM — August 22, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  42. JM,

    The main problem is that what you are quoting is Adam-God theory and that has been explicitly denounced by more recent prophets.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 22, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  43. Jacob and Geoff: If I remember right, JM is actually pretty close to something I think Joseph Fielding Smith said once, but my source for that was third hand…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

  44. Geoff,

    I never did buy into “AGT”. Basically I’m taking out the “A” and transposing the participants back one generation as Jacob suggested.

    If JFS did say something like that, then I’m glad he agrees with me (note the heavy sarcasm implied).

    Comment by JM — August 22, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

  45. I am not overly concerned with the similarities to A-G. Change a few names and you can say it is different (as Geoff knows from his work on MMP).

    The concern I have with the JM proposal is that I can’t tell how it accounts for evolution (which this post is about). Seems like this theory is hard to square with common descent. Unless God has DNA strikingly like other primates, which would need further explanation.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 22, 2007 @ 2:24 pm

  46. Yup, the problem with the “colonizer” theories in general is that they don’t jibe with evolution very well at all unless we assume that the colonizers arrived with, as Jacob said, “DNA strikingly like other primates”. There are several variations on colonizer theories I’ve heard too. One is that there were people here already (through evolution) and that the descendants of Adam just interbred with them.

    I don’t find any colonizer theories persuasive though. As you may know, I think some version of Jacob’s #5 is the best bet.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 22, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

  47. JM, I do have to say that the concept you are talking about is what I meant by #4.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

  48. I will try to find the JfieldingS quote…

    Comment by Matt W. — August 22, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

  49. Perhaps I’m not understanding the excercise then. Are you attempting to find a way to reconcile the evolutionary progress of humans and all other life forms?

    And, is your #4 removing humans from completely from the evolutionary chain?

    If so, then yes, I’m siding more with your #4.

    But I can see how that leaves questions unanswered, like the known ancestors of Homo sapien (i.e. Homo neanderthalensis)

    Comment by JM — August 22, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  50. JM- yes #4 removes Humans from the evolutuionary chain. I was attempting to find ways to give ground to both Evolution and NDBF, and I will leave it at that. Currently, Evolution and all that comes with it includes the concept of common descent for all living things, including humans.

    at BCC, R. Gary Quotes RMN as saying:

    We believe that God is our creator and that he has created other forms of life…. Man has always been man. Dogs have always been dogs. Monkeys have always been monkeys.

    I’d like to throw out a thought here.

    [The spirit of] Man has always been man. [The spirit of] Dogs have always been dogs. [The spirit of] Monkeys have always been monkeys

    Perhaps, going along with concepts like #2 and #5, we can say that God placed the spiritual matter into the physical matter at the point where they were in symetry one with another?

    Comment by Matt W. — August 23, 2007 @ 7:05 am

  51. Matt W, let me add a new idea to the theories in your original post:

    In the church we speak of two kinds of death: physical death and spiritual death. Christ overcame both. Spiritual death is roughly equivalent to “sin”–i.e., we have done something that excludes us from the presence of God.

    I suggest that the story of the fall of Adam may tell us that there was no spiritual death before the fall. Sin was precisely the thing that led to the fall–Eve and Adam (who seem to represent all mankind in the temple account) chose to become subject to spiritual death so that they could gain knowledge and become like God.

    I personally view this as part of your theory #2–the idea that this all took place in the premortal world. We don’t know much about the preexistence, but it seems that we all made a choice to become subject to sin and death so that we could gain knowledge and become like God.

    Comment by CE — August 23, 2007 @ 7:38 am

  52. CE- my only quandry on such a notion is that if the case is that there was no sin at all before the fall, which seems reasonable, then Satan was not sinning when he was rebelling against God and tempting Adam and Eve. If you can get me through that little hiccup, then I’m all ears.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 23, 2007 @ 7:59 am

  53. Matt W.-

    If the “fall” means seperation from God, and “death” means sin and the resulting separation from God, then “no death before the fall” is a truism.

    If you want a possible further explanation, consider that Satan and his followers apparently “fell” when they rebelled against God (they were cast out of God’s presence). That sin led to their fall. Adam and Eve’s choice led to their own fall later.

    But honestly, I am inclined to view the Garden of Eden story quite figuratively. The basic message for me is that all mankind lived in a paradisiacal world where there was no sin and no death, and most of us chose to come to a world where we would be subject to temptation and sin, happiness and sorrow, health and sickness, and eventually physical death, all so that we could gain knowledge and become more like God. Details about the nature of the fruit or the dialogue between the serpent and Eve don’t really pose problems for me.

    Comment by CE — August 23, 2007 @ 9:12 am

  54. What I have suggested in #51 and #53 above is consistent with what Jacob J wrote in #8. I like how he worded it, and I apparently overlooked his comment until now:

    . . . we can view the fall as something that is ongoing. Individuals continue to leave their premortal paradise and decend to this fallen existence (thus they fall). . . There is no death in the place you came from (per-mortal world). Death only exists in the place you fall to (i.e. the Earth in its current state). So, it is true that death existed before my personal fall, but only in a place that had already fallen. Thus, there was never death before a fall. All death exists in a fallen state, and is therefore preceded by a fall in all cases.

    Comment by CE — August 23, 2007 @ 11:49 am

  55. You state in your #4 that man is a “Special Creation”. What I am proposing is that it’s not man that is the special creation, but the garden. A celestial bubble within a telestial world. Outside the bubble, life is subject to both spiritual and physical death. Within the garden, it isn’t. In fact, you could view our modern temples as a symbolic re-creation of the garden bubble where one goes to reclaim eternal life.

    This is a viewpoint that I have held for some time. Until other information can convince me otherwise, I hold it as personal “creed” that I accept as more than theory. Of course, I don’t believe anyone else has to believe in it. It is just something that I think is supported the most by the evidence available and my own spiritual experiences.

    Comment by Jettboy — August 24, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  56. I highly recommend Doctrines of Salvation volume one by Joseph Fielding Smith, which discusses this topic in great detail. There’s way too much to quote that’s why I recommend reading it.

    Another way to look at this is whether or not Talmage/Roberts can have cake with J.Fielding Smith/Mckonkie.

    Oh the wonderful debates of the 20’s and 30’s! Some debate because the latter outlived the previous, their view point has become church doctrine, or that the lord willed it that way. I find these interesting thoughts.
    I still can’t decide how allegorical I think the Garden of Eden story is.
    Eric Skousen has some intresting view points as well about this in his book Earth in the beginning.

    Comment by Gunner — August 26, 2007 @ 10:22 am

  57. I look at the garden of Eden as a “bubble” in evolution. When life progressed to a certain point of perfection (the sixth day) God “placed” Adam’s spirit into a perfected body; then placed him (along with Eve of course) into the “bubble” where there would be no death AS LONG AS HE (and Eve) REMAINED THEREIN. When he (and Eve) was cast out of the “bubbel” he became subject to death, as other creatures were who lived outside the “bubble.” The Bible tells the rest of the story.

    Comment by Samuel Wattles — December 10, 2008 @ 5:45 pm

  58. Samuel, would you see that as distinct from #3 in my original post, or is that about the same idea. I have a friend with a PHD in genetics who holds the same idea.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 10, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  59. No. 1 is tre cool.

    Comment by Adam Greenwood — June 4, 2010 @ 8:28 am

  60. If you take theory 1, then the saying concerning Adam being the first mortal flesh (Moses 3:7) could be taken in a number of consistent ways in that his fall leads to all mortality. He would basically be at the head of mortality in the same way that Christ is at the head of resurrection.

    Comment by Hales — February 20, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

  61. There is a sifi short story about a team of terra formers preparing a planet to become inhabited.Two of the guys decide to play a joke on the future men who will reside on this planet,they place a watch on the bones of a dinosaur they bury.They laugh and say won’t they have fun trying to explain that.My point is ,that in the king follet discourse joseph says that the earth was not created but was organised.Suppose that the materials that were used to create this earth were the remains of a planet that had already been used for a prior creation,would it not contain buried things from that prior creation,that would not jive with our understanding.? just a thought.

    Comment by marv thompson — February 21, 2011 @ 2:56 am

  62. Yeah but you would have to account for why this planets viloent re-organizing of itself has left the bones laid out all nice and together in convenient soil layers. Not to mention that it seems rather mean to make those poor dinosaurs wait so long without resurrecting them just because they needed to be there to prove in 7,000 year creation.

    Comment by Riley — February 25, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  63. What makes you think those bones are required for resurrection,our resurrected body will be a new body .You missed my point or i did not do a good job of expressing it. my suggestion was that the dead planet that was used for this creation had those bones at different levels from some other creation,when science tells us how old the earth is,all they are doing is telling us how old the materials are.

    Comment by marv thompson — February 25, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  64. Riley, I started a response along those lines but then realized what a waste of time it would be. But yeah.

    Comment by Jacob J — February 25, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  65. Jacob J, I testify that your comment #1 completed me.

    Marv, I understand that your point was that the materials of this earth are old because they came from older earths.

    And you’re right, I don’t think we have to have our exact bones to be resurrected but since you seem to take the creation accounts literally (minus needing other scriptures that allow the wiggle room for the less uncomfortable 7,000 year creation as opposed to 7 actual days) I assumed you also took the scripture accounts of not “losing a hair of your head” literal (Well technically if you do take it literal it says nothing of getting your bones back, so Ill give you that). My apologies for assuming.

    MBut you failed to answer to my point why we have layers with consistent material with consistent ages at each level (unless disrupted by shifts) that happen to be recycling itself in the mantle.

    Comment by Riley — February 25, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  66. reread #63 I said the layers existed from the prior creation.I would be stupid to take anything in the bible as is,it has been translated from to many languages and so many times that it is full of errors,not my opinion but bro Joseph’s ,,,,does God want us to believe on faith or fact. I love facts but I build my testimony on faith.god created this earth as part of our test,is it possible that dinosaurs never existed ,but those bones were placed their as part of the test,I don’t know, but when science and faith clashes,then i will take faith.Science facts change about every 20 years,check out the nasa site and see how many planets have been discovered in the last ten years,,,worlds with out number says the lord and science is now finding this to be true.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 4, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  67. Were abused by a science teacher or something? Haha I kid. But seriously,Why do faith and science clash in this instance I wonder? I understand that Brigham Young’s view of “colonizing” by transplantation clashes with joseph Fielding Smith’s view of adobe made people, but I wonder why and how you determined the latter’s view is THE view and that all others are merely vain attempts that have been duped because of God’s ruse….

    We as Mormons shouldn’t be too comfortable because we’ve settled in with unchangeable “doctrine”. I can now have my black friend give me a blessing and don’t have to get me another wife in order to be exalted. All of our understandings – science and religious doctrine – should have a comma at the end so that we allow God’s rightful place, and man’s rightful place, to keep adding new ideas (or even deleting outdated ideas).

    Sorry you feel that there is such a battle between science and faith (though I suspect you are equivocating faith with religious doctrinal beliefs).

    Comment by Riley — March 4, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

  68. Jacob J, now I know why you stopped. This is a dug in issue for folks.

    Comment by Riley — March 4, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  69. Prophets before they receive the keys of leadership have as much right to opinion as you and I.When we quote a prophet we need to be careful to only quote prophet when they are in the office of prophet. At any other time we are only quoting the opinion of another member who may or may not be correct.I believe all of the prophets are great men,but they spoke their opinion from time to time. There were other times that a prophet while in the office of prophet spoke untruths for one reason or another. The
    best example of this is when a young man approached Joseph and ask him where the lost ten tribes were,Joseph replied that they were on a planet near that star,as he pointed to a star in the heavens. Joseph had been asked the question so many times he just for fun messed with the young man.I love science , I am a prove it to me person and even though my testimony is based on faith,I need the security of ruins in south america and discoveries of nasa to hold that faith together,but some time gets it wrong because they start out with a false premise.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 5, 2011 @ 5:53 am

  70. MORMON doctrine fits better with an episode of star trek then it does with mainline Christianity. That makes many more explanations for the plan of salvation available to us then it does to the closed minded of main liners. Joseph knew what was in store for him only a short time from when he gave the king Follett talk and in it he opens our eyes to more possibilities then those normally spoken over the podium.Milk is taught in the church because the church grows so fast that we have so many new members who are not ready for meat.I was told at a BYU education week that a teacher at Ricks was told to stop discussing his opinions,not because they were wrong but because they were not ment for his current audience.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 5, 2011 @ 6:15 am

  71. So what do you recommend, we just read word for word out of correlated committee manuals since anything else naturally carries the influence of presenters biases and assumptions?

    Church leaders can be just as mistaken after they receive their calling just as much as before they receive their calling. And I agree that when they are in their position they should be careful what they say because they carry more weight by virtue of their calling. Hence personal views published in books carry such a following even though they are 20+ years old and not reiterated from the conference pulpit.

    That being said, what is your position on the earth’s and life’s creation and where did you get it from?.

    Comment by Riley — March 5, 2011 @ 8:33 am

  72. 1st you missed what i said,i said even after a man is in his calling he still can error ,but it is my opinion that is not the case with the office of prophet. My position on earth’s and life’s creation ,is that we do not know the answer,but I do know that science and the gospel are compatible . the problem is that science has not yet discovered all the truths yet.We are not part of the first creation and we are not the last creation,and this same question has been asked in many creations before us. I presume you have been to the temple and so you know this to be true.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 9, 2011 @ 12:11 am

  73. “So what do you recommend, we just read word for word out of correlated committee manuals since anything else naturally carries the influence of presenters biases and assumptions?” No, we do as Hartman Rector Jr said,we seek truth were ever it is,for all truth comes from god ,and to know what is truth is easy,listen to the spirit. The church is not the only source of truth ,my family had the great fortune of hosting exchange students of many different faiths. These students all had knowledge of some of the gospel truths.Correlated committee manuals teach milk.You are not a milk drinker,so seek out more but be careful to not share what you find with milk drinkers,you can crush a young testimony.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 9, 2011 @ 12:23 am

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