Gospel Doctrine Lesson 3… with an evolution twist…

January 15, 2006 | 181 comments
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I taught Gospel Doctrine today. It was lesson 3, specifically covering Moses 1:27 through Moses 3. Jim F. put up his post on this lesson more than a week ago and Julie put up another one last week and as usual I consulted them while preparing. I thought the lesson went well today, but for y’all I have a twist…

Julie pointed out the same thing that I noticed this time through the reading — namely that Moses 2 tells the entire creation story through the introduction of humankind as a people, and then Moses 3 strangely picks up the story with Adam as if there were no people or animals introduced in chapter two after all. Julie mentioned that one explanation of this is that chapter two describes a “spiritual creationâ€? and chapter three is more about the physical creation. But as I read those chapters this time I found myself thinking it was just the opposite – that chapter two describes the physical creation of the earth and chapter three (the garden narrative) was allegorical.

Once again, it has been my bloggernacle reading that has led me to see these scriptures in new light. You may or may not know it (though you should), but there is an entire blog in our community devoted to the subject of Mormons and Evolution. (And if you think that is odd, then you’ll be even more surprised to learn that there is also an entire blog devoted to the notion that there was no death before the fall!) I have learned a lot from the boys at Mormons and Evolution. I had no particular opinion on the subject a year ago, but as I posted recently, I sort of do now. In short, I think the Mormon evolutionists are on the right track. Further, I picked up and recently posted on the suggestion that the Garden narrative might be an allegory for our pre-mortal existence (I expanded on the original idea suggesting that the allegory might describe the point where our spirits became sentient, actually…)

Anyway, it seems to me that the six creative periods as described in Moses 2 fit with the evolutionary theories of our earth without much difficulty at all. Moses 2 leaves us with a fully formed planet and all sorts of people running around here (after all the long brooding by the Gods and whatnot of course). Then after all those people are here we get to Moses 3 and we learn all about Adam and his learning good from evil and then being cast out of paradise with Eve to till the ground and seek light and truth from God. What gives?

(Have I stirred the pot sufficiently yet? Pre-Adamites; Evolution – Oh yeah, I’m shooting for a 300+ comment thread… )

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181 Responses to Gospel Doctrine Lesson 3… with an evolution twist…

  1. Julie M. Smith on January 15, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    “Julie mentioned that one explanation of this is that chapter two describes a “spiritual creationâ€? and chapter three is more about the physical creation. But as I read those chapters this time I found myself thinking it was just the opposite – that chapter two describes the physical creation of the earth and chapter three (the garden narrative) was allegorical.”

    I was having some thoughts in this direction as well, actually, because Moses 3 certainly seems more allegorical than 2. But one thing I tried to point out to my class was that neither physical nor spiritual is synonymous with (or antithetical to) literal or figurative. That is, Moses 3 could describe a physical creation in completely allegorical terms while 2 could describe a spiritual creation literally. (But your reading of 2 and 3 with the injection of evolution and sentience intrigues me, too–but you’ll need some fancy footwork to make sense of Moses 3:5,7, and 9 in that case.)

    (And just to help you hit that 300 comment mark, I’d like to point to a really fabulous devotional given at BYU last Spring by an entomologist who uses Darwin’s theory to learn more about the creator. You can listen to it at BYU speeches; search for Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life.)

  2. Jonathan N on January 16, 2006 at 12:25 am

    Geoff, your description of the allegory theory of the Garden of Eden is well-done, but it doesn’t explain the symbolism of God “planting” the Garden and the tree of life. Would you say that imagery is merely an extension of the Garden idea itself, or does that symbolism undermine your allegory theory? IOW, in what sense would God have “planted” the pre-existence and put two people in it?

  3. Aaron Brown on January 16, 2006 at 1:30 am

    Evolution if of the DEVIL!!!!!!!! Haven’t you read your McConkie? Oh, and dinosaur bones were obviously placed here by Satan to tempt us into believing the theories of men. Looks like you fell for the temptation, Geoff. So sad. But I guess we can’t all be Celestial Kingdom-bound, can we? Once I’ve made it, I’ll send you a postcard. :)

    Aaron B

  4. Brooke on January 16, 2006 at 1:51 am

    This has been a topic of frequent discussion in my family, and in my opinion it is a very fun topic to muse about.
    I currently have a seminary teacher who has (more than once) told us that dinosaur bones come from outer space, and are remnants from expired planets that God somehow gathered together when he formed our earth.
    So dinosaurs are really outer space ALIENS that were planted in the ground by God!

    Anyway, the Adam and Eve story has always been very frustrating and confusing to me because no matter how many times I have asked people about it, and read it over myself, I can never seem to make complete sense out of it.
    However, I am very intrigued by theories such as the one presented in this post . When I first started thinking about the creation story in this way, everything suddenly seemed to come to light.

    For a very interesting take on the Adam and Eve story I would suggest reading the first few chapters of “How Good Do We Have to Be?” by Harold S. Kushner (google it). Kushner is a Jewish Rabbi. Combine his take on Adam and Eve with some of our uniquely Mormon doctrine and you get a very interesting picture.

    I would also suggest “Finding Darwin’s God” by Kenneth R. Miller. I haven’t read this one yet, but it had my older brother completely absorbed for a few weeks (or days).

    Interesting post. I look forward to reading the discussion that will follow.
    By the way I am a 16 year old High School student and an avid reader of Times and Seasons, along with other blogs.
    Keep up the thought-provoking discussions (I know you will).

  5. Mike on January 16, 2006 at 1:54 am

    I thought that about Moses 2 seeming much more in line with our scientific view of how the earth was created. Every time I read it it seems more in line with those views. (doesn’t mean that is what is intended- just what I pick up)

    I taugh gospel doctrine today and avoided discussion of evolution. (partially because there was a fight in gospel doctrine four years ago over the subject with some sincerely hurt feelings.)

    I started with framing it around the idea that clearly we don’t know through revelation HOW the creation happened. We have the account four times- but only a few verses really talk about the nuts and bolts of how the creation took place. I followed with the questions: what are we to gain from these accounts? Why is it so important to have it four times and what are we to learn from the symbolism that is there? I think that it went pretty well. I am glad that the normal gospel doctrine teachers bailed and I had the opportunity to prepare the lesson and teach.

  6. meems on January 16, 2006 at 1:56 am

    Ooh, Aaron. When I saw your name I thought it might be the other Aaron (B. Cox) coming back to life. A friend once told me that he worked with a guy (LDS) who told him Mormons “don’t believe in dinosaurs.” I had never heard this “theory” before, and I looked at him like he was insane. My friend said, “Please, Meems, tell me this guy’s just wacko.” I told him I had never heard anything like this and the guy must be nuts. Little did I know. . .?

  7. Gary on January 16, 2006 at 6:52 am

    Geoff J,

    The LDS Church’s official internet site has a Gospel Library where members may “Study Selected Topics,” one of which is Creation.

    The very first Creation resource is Elder Russell M. Nelson’s discussion of “Creation” in the April 2000 general conference. In this talk, Elder Nelson argues doctrinally against evolution:

    “The creation of a paradisiacal planet came from God. Mortality and death came into the world through the Fall of Adam. … Eventually, ‘the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.’ (A of F 1:10.) At the Second Coming of the Lord, the earth will be changed once again. It will be returned to its paradisiacal state and be made new.” (Ensign, May 2000, 84-86).

    This is a clear statement that there was no death before the fall. (A more detailed discussion of Elder Nelson’s views about death before the fall is found here.) Without millions, perhaps billions, of years of death and dying, evolution is ruled out completely.

  8. Gary on January 16, 2006 at 6:54 am

    Julie M. Smith (#1),

    A few Church members, including some scientists, believe Darwinian evolution was involved in the creation.

    While such beliefs are tolerated, there is NO scriptural mandate for Church members to follow the teachings of BYU entomologists.

    On the other hand, there IS a scriptural mandate for Church members to follow the teachings of the apostles and prophets.

    And in the 36 years since Joseph Fielding Smith became Church President, the teachings of the apostles and prophets (members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve) have been very unified on the subject of no death before the fall.

  9. Tim J. on January 16, 2006 at 9:38 am

    So when does the story stop being allegorical and begin to be literal? Did Adam and Eve even exist? What about Cain and Abel? Is the story of the flood and Noah’s ark also allegorical? I think saying the Fall narrative is purely allegorical is a dangerous first step to take.

    Is it necessary for the narrative to be purely allegorical in order for evolution to be fact? I don’t see why this has to be.

  10. Joseph Stanford on January 16, 2006 at 10:18 am

    There is an ongoing series of articles about reconciling evolutionary science with Christianity at First Things. Most of the articles are specifically from a Catholic perspective, but most of the arguments transfer well to an LDS perspective. One of the recent, best, and shortest of the articles, written by a Cathlic physicist, can be read at
    http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0510/opinion/barr.html
    My own opinion is that when the Lord someday reveals how the creation was accomplished (D&C 101:32-34), everyone- the committed Darwinian biologists (religious or atheistic), the “no death before the fall” religious folks, and everyone else- is going to be very surprised. In other words, I doubt that we will figure it all out before its revealed. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with science and philosophy doing the best they can to try to figure it out and put together the pieces of the puzzle that they have as best as they can.

  11. CEF on January 16, 2006 at 11:20 am

    I am not trying to say that there wasn’t any death before the fall, but I would be interested in how one would explain just why we would need a savior in that case. What exactly would He be saving us from. If there were no fall to bring sin into the world, then the only laws that we would be breaking would be mad made laws that would have no eternal significance.

  12. CEF on January 16, 2006 at 11:32 am

    I think the above should be *man* made laws, not mad made. :)

  13. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    Julie – Looks like 300 comments was a tad optimistic… Anyway, I’m glad to hear you think my suggested take on this has merit. It is working better for me than the others I have heard to date, though it does require more working out still….

    Jonathan N. – I think the simplest answer is that the planting and the later references are all figurative. If this line of thinking works then Adam and Eve (in the Garden at least) simply represent Intelligences that have progressed over the eternities from lower intelligence levels to the point where they are ready to become sentient (human). This of course requires a model of spirits that is closer to Orson Pratt’s atomism than the alternative “whole-cloth” model of spirits (that is another major debate though so I’ll leave that). Anyway, I don’t think it represent “two people” but rather all people.

    Aaron – Excellent inflammatory comments. Thanks for trying to help me with my stated goal here!

    Brooke – Seminary teacher!? Oh boy… Well, welcome. Please don’t go and freak your friends or teacher out too much though. I taught seminary for a few years (early morning) but I know not a lot of the teachers are not fond of adventurous truth seeking like this…

    Mike – I left all sorts of room for creative periods that lasted hundreds of millions of years, but never mentioned the word “evolution” in my lesson. “To every thing there is a season…” I saved the fun stuff for y’all.

    Meems – It turns out that the actor that played Aaron Cox is one to Mormons and Evolution boys, so I imagine he might show here later…

    Gary – Niiiice! I’m glad you showed. I have to admire your zeal and tenacity on this subject — I always have. Having said that I still think you are completely out to lunch on this subject. I look forward to your continued participation here though!

    Joseph S – I suppose there will be many surprises to come. Still, I think much of modern science is better than some of us want to admit. (We are God’s children after all — is it so hard to imagine that we might start getting decent at this?)

    CEF – Regarding the atonement – see my Parable of the Pianist. The idea is that the atonement is to make us One with God. We need not assume we became depraved because of Adam’s Fall to need help becoming one with God after all.

  14. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    Oops, I missed Tim J’s question (maybe it was in moderation?)

    I actually am wondering where allegory would stop and literalism would start with this too, Tim. I don’t have it worked out yet myself. I do have confidence that God can answer questions for us though, so I’m working on the “study it out in my mind” phase right now.

    You are right that this Garden as allegory subject is not at all necessary for one to believe in evolution in Mormonism, though.

  15. CEF on January 16, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    Thank you for the link to your parable of the pianist. I did not read all of it yet, but it seems that you were able to make some changes to it, to fit better with what we understand the atonement to be. I will look foreword to reading it all.

    But I think you missed my real point, something I think Tim J was alluding to. If the stories of Adam and Eve are only pious myths, then where is it recorded in history that God first interacted with man? And whatever that may be, why would we have any reason to believe it to be any more true than what we already have?

    If the only thing we have are the scriptures to give us reason to think that God gave us commandments to live by, then it becomes a very slippery slope to pick and choose which ones we will believe in. Again, where is it first recorded in history that god gave us laws to live by, with a punishment fixed for not keeping them.

    If the statement, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” is not something close to the truth, then I think Christianity is a wonderful invention for a non-existing problem.

    I am not saying that I do not believe in some kind of evolution, but I have not been able to put it all together with what I think we have to keep as far as our religion goes.

  16. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    CEF,

    You bring up some good points. I don’t think there is any getting around a literal Adam and Eve on this planet — and I am not trying to do so. I think there is good evidence that “Adam” is a role or position as much as it is a proper name, though (see Moses 1:34. Also see Nibley’s Before Adam essay.). As you said, God had to start talking to our people at some point. We discussed this overall subject in the thread of my Monkey Man post as well. The questions we don’t have answers to is who Adam, the person on our planet, was and how he got here (particularly if there were people here already). Some have thought of him as the first great prophet, others (like many 19th century church leaders) assumed he was a transplant from elsewhere (originally with a resurrected body no less). Obviously others believe he was formed directly “out of the dust” in an instant. The records don’t make the answers clear. I leaned toward the colonizer idea for a while but now I am not so sure at all…

    If I were to guess today, I would guess that the Garden narrative is entirely allegorical and that the Biblical accounts of the post-garden tale take poetic license (I think the Cain/Abel story is a little too similar to the Lucifer/Jesus tale is all…) My guess is that the Book of Moses account has the most historical/literal information about the actual people (but they match the biblical tales too so who knows?) In any case, I think the records are clear that Adam was the first of “our people” here on earth.

  17. Wade on January 16, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    I think the Mormon evolutionists are on the right track.”
    “…the Garden narrative might be an allegory…”
    “…the allegory might describe the point where our spirits became sentient…”
    “…it seems to me that the six creative periods…fit the evolutionary theories…”

    I always find it interesting when secularist teaching creeps into the Church by those spouting the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Can we at least have some references cited for us here besides some mormon/evolution blog? If there is saving truth in evolution, the prophets must have revealed it at some point. Can you cite any authority, or is the issue here really just about exceeding 300 comments???

  18. Jared on January 16, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    Re: #17

    Well for starters:

    Boyd K. Packer: “We are told [the creation] is figurative insofar as the man and woman are concerned” (The Law and the Light).

    Brigham Young referred to man being created out of dust as a “baby story” (Journal of Discourses–reference not handy).

    Spencer W. Kimball stated that woman being created from a rib is figurative (Ensign, March 1976).

    Bruce R. McConkie: “Again the account is speaking figuratively. What is meant by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is that our first parents complied with whatever laws were involved so that their bodies would change from their state of paradisiacal immortality to a state of natural mortality” (Ensign, June 1982).

    None of this is an endorsement of evolution–in fact some of the above would condemn evolution–but it does free us from a certain amount of literalism and points to open questions.

  19. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    If there is saving truth in evolution, the prophets must have revealed it at some point.

    “Saving truth” in evolution? What do you mean, Wade?

  20. Adam S. on January 16, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    After Joseph Fielding Smith wrote “Man, His origin and destiny” there was some discussion about making an institute class centered on the teachings. Concerned about its obvious conflict with science, someone approached Henry Erying (Elder Eyring’s dad) worried that the church would lose youth when they forced them to either reject well-documented evidence or the prophet. In the next General Sunday School Council meeting (with Pres. Smith present) Bro. Eyring stood up and testified that he knew the earth to be older than 4 or 5 billion years. Pres. Smith called him in his office to discuss the matter and neither was able to convince the other the he was wrong. [paraphrased from memory from "Faith of a Scientist"] Thankfully, as members we are free to disagree with the prophet and remain active and faithful.

    It is time we stop debating well documented facts. The earth is billions of years old. There has been life and death on earth for over a billion years.

    You have two options:

    There was life (and death) before Adam if you believe he lived about 6,000 years ago.

    If you believe the Fall was figurative, than there was no death before the fall.

  21. Wade on January 16, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    #18 – Jared:

    Yes, the quotations you cite are good. I am aware of all of them. Yet, my point was not concerning the figurative aspect of the creation drama as recorded in the scriptures. I fully believe the creation drama is very allegorical and figurative! I can cite the first five prophets (and many apostles) in this dispensation who refute Darwinian evolution by teaching Adam was born of a woman and so was Eve (The B.Y. baby-story reference is: JD 2:6, and he references them being born of a woman in JD 3:319). What the prophets in the quotations you have cited mean is that Adam was not created from the actual dirt or “dust” of the ground. In fact, without any interpretation needed, the scriptures themselves teach this (Moses 6:59).

    Thanks for the citations, but I was referring to citations from prophets who have taught that we evolved from gaseous matter (this, by the way, was found to be falacious (See The Miller-Urey Experiment – wherein the scientists used continuous electrical currents to form amino acids from gas). Also, darwinian evolutionists run into quite a problem when trying to reconcile the second law of thermodynamics – i.e. entropy – with their little idea.

  22. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Surely there are aspects of the Fall that ARE figurative and allegorical. This surley does not mean that the entire narrative is as well. Something can be symbolic and literal at once. I have no problems with most of evolution, but, put a gun to my head make me choose scripture or science, and I’ll choose scripture. Of course, it’s not really that black and white–I think the two can definitely coexist.

  23. Sonielem on January 16, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    I just finished reading Eric Skousen’s Earth in the Beginning Sunday. He offers a somewhat dramatic view of these questions.

    He didn’t convince me–there’s simply too much we don’t know, and he has great confidence in strong readings of texts that remain unclear and enigmatic to me.

    But he did confirm my sense that there are many more possibilities than most people think, and that the fact that the creation stories we have seem to us unclear and confusing is likely evidence that our thinking is way off track.

    In brief, he suggests that “preparatory life forms” were removed, the earth was sanctified, new life (that had gone through billions of years of development} was planted here, and that this life was immortal until the fall. . .

    Much of the science of deep time is constructed of layers and layers of surmise woven through a web of quite scanty facts. Very interesting, but nothing that should pose any serious challenge to faith.

  24. Wade on January 16, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    #20:

    Faith of a Scientist is a good book! However, citations from the father of a current Apostle are not what I am looking for. Furthermore, so what if the earth is billions of years old? I don’t know a ton about fossils and carbon dating, but isn’t it possible that scientific calculations are completely off? After all, I for one believe matter to be eternal (DC 93:33). If matter is eternal, how can anyone pin-point formations and dissolutions of material forms? Is it not possible that the earth was created from unorganized matter, i.e. matter used on other planets that is still intact according to its prior organization in preparation for being used here?

  25. Jonathan N on January 16, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    Gary (#s 7-8) reflects a common misunderstanding of the Church’s position. Here’s a quotation from the CES manual on this topic:

    “If this last meaning was the sense in which Moses used the word day, then the apparent conflict between the scriptures and much of the evidence seen by science as supporting a very old age for the earth is easily resolved. Each era or day of creation could have lasted for millions or even hundreds of millions of our years, and uniformitarianism could be accepted without any problem.

    “While it is interesting to note these various theories, officially the Church has not taken a stand on the age of the earth. For reasons best known to Himself, the Lord has not yet seen fit to formally reveal the details of the Creation. Therefore, while Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn truth from many different fields of study (see D&C 88:77–79), an attempt to establish any theory as the official position of the Church is not justifiable.”

    When we talk about no death before the fall, don’t we mean spiritual as well as physical death? If Adam was the first mortal on earth to be visited by angels, receive the gospel, etc., he would be the first accountable mortal.

    When Lehi says all things would have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created, he could as easily refer to an immortal Adam and Eve in the special Garden of Eden, surrounded by an evolving earth that would continue in its natural state forever, as he could refer to the idea that nothing physically died until after the fall. Indeed, if the earth has survived millions of years and is only just now nearing its end a few thousand years after accountable humans entered it, isn’t it possible that but for the fall, the earth could have continued for millions of years more?

  26. Julie M. Smith on January 16, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    Gary re #8–

    Calm down. I said I thought the talk was good, not that agreeing with him was scripturally mandated. I’m not going to engage you on this issue because I think that you are not willing to hear out another viewpoint, but I just want to point out to others reading that Gary is not accurately describing the church’s position on the issue.

    Tim asks, “So when does the story stop being allegorical and begin to be literal? Did Adam and Eve even exist? What about Cain and Abel? Is the story of the flood and Noah’s ark also allegorical? I think saying the Fall narrative is purely allegorical is a dangerous first step to take.”

    Tim, this is how I presented it to my SS class: Pres. Kimball taught clearly that the idea that Eve was created from a rib is figurative. Other than that, we are on our own to figure out what is (1) literal or (2) allegorical or (3) both within the parameters of other doctrines. For example, the prophets have taught that Adam is a lineal offspring of God, so I don’t think we can reject his historicity. But that doesn’t mean that stories about him aren’t related in a symbolic fashion.

    Joseph Stanford wrote, “My own opinion is that when the Lord someday reveals how the creation was accomplished (D&C 101:32-34), everyone- the committed Darwinian biologists (religious or atheistic), the “no death before the fallâ€? religious folks, and everyone else- is going to be very surprised. In other words, I doubt that we will figure it all out before its revealed. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with science and philosophy doing the best they can to try to figure it out and put together the pieces of the puzzle that they have as best as they can.”

    Amen. What a thoughtful articulation.

    CEF asks, “If the stories of Adam and Eve are only pious myths, then where is it recorded in history that God first interacted with man?”

    Whoa! There is a *huge* difference between thinking that the tree of life should be understood alelgorically (as opposed to being, you know, a shrub) and thinking that the story of Adam and Eve is a pious myth.

    (BTW the Brooke: glad you are here.)

  27. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Julie, I agree with your statements and how you raised the issue in SS (see my comment #22).

    There is a reason why I used the phrase, “PURELY allegorical” in my first comment. I accept the fact that there is symbology involved, as it is quite obvious. But what many hard-core evolutionists, and Geoff J. to a certain extent, are asserting, is that the entire narrative is completely allegorical and simply symbolic and they use this reasoning as a way to support evolution. This why I asked when it was that allegory stopped and historical fact began.

  28. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    Adam S:

    You have two options:
    There was life (and death) before Adam if you believe he lived about 6,000 years ago.
    If you believe the Fall was figurative, than there was no death before the fall.

    I actually suggested that to NDBF Gary at his blog but for some reason he was not thrilled with it…

    Wade – I’m still not sure what you are arguing for here… I will say that as I understand it the whole giant chunks of planets being thrown together to create the earth theory (#24) does not at all match up with the evidence.

    Julie (#26): Calm down.

    Lol!

  29. Jared on January 16, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    Re: #21 Wade,

    I can cite the first five prophets (and many apostles) in this dispensation who refute Darwinian evolution by teaching Adam was born of a woman and so was Eve.

    I think what you are referring to is the teaching that Adam and Eve were physically the son and daughter of God. This concept has been taught by various General Authorities, but I wouldn’t say it is official. In fact there has hardly been anything said on it in official Church literature in about 25 years. Look in the Proclamation, True to the Faith, and other such documents and you will find emphasis on our spiritual relationship to God. Even if the teaching is true, I don’t think it is a simple case of either/or.

    See The Miller-Urey Experiment
    You are talking about the origin of the initial life form(s) here. Though connected, it is a different topic than evolution.

    Also, darwinian evolutionists run into quite a problem when trying to reconcile the second law of thermodynamics – i.e. entropy – with their little idea.
    They do not. This is a common argument. Did you know that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is taught in basic chemistry, a course any biologist would have taken? It’s foundation is in physics–one would think that if there was a real issue to be made, the phyicists and the biologists would be duking it out, but I am unaware of any such fights.

    You want quotes from prophets/apostles who were friendly to evolution, and I readily admit they are few.

  30. Adam S. on January 16, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    I hope I didn’t imply that the anecdote proves any doctrine. I disagree with using quotes from dead prophets and otherwise as axioms to prove the age of the earth. That is clearly the realm of science. My point is that it is a done deal. Science has informed religion in this regard.

  31. Brooke on January 16, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Geoff #13 “Brooke – Seminary teacher!? Oh boy… Well, welcome. Please don’t go and freak your friends or teacher out too much though. I taught seminary for a few years (early morning) but I know not a lot of the teachers are not fond of adventurous truth seeking like this…”

    Oh nooooo. I have learned to keep my mouth firmly shut (most of the time) in Seminary and Sunday School. I know that discussions of this kind are saved for home (where we are extremely fond of adventurous truth seeking).

    That is exactly what this is, by the way. Simply being adventurous. Seeing where we might be able to logically take things in relation to the creation. So there is no reason to get too dramatic (or upset). Of course we will never know the answers to lots of life’s great question until God reveals them to us. But until then as Jospeh S. wrote “there is nothing wrong with science and philosophy doing the best they can to try to figure it out and put together the pieces of the puzzle that they have as best as they can.â€?

    Double amen.

  32. Julie M. Smith on January 16, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    Brooke,

    You seem way too level-headed to be a high school student.

    (that was a compliment)

  33. Julie M. Smith on January 16, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    OK, Tim, I’m with you. About the only scripture story that I think could be _purely_ allegorical might (possibly) be The Book of Jonah.

  34. Brooke on January 16, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    How about…
    there was no *real* death before the fall.
    How do we define the death spoken about in relation to the fall?
    Death of the spirit. Separation from God.
    Adam and Eve were the first beings with fully human souls. They were sentient. God-like –in that they were aware of what was right and what was wrong.
    They brought to pass the real, condemning sort of death. They had the knowledge of God and his commandments…and therefore they necessitated the atonement, because they were prone to sin.
    Their “fall” was their knowledge of right and wrong, and therefore their spiritual accountability.

    There are probably flaws in this. Holes. Feel free to point them out.
    Just throwing it out.

    and Julie S,
    Thank You for the compliment! I am trying really hard to articulate my thoughts clearly, and keep up with everyone. I am not half as good at it as most of you, and I definitely have a lot less background knowledge (and mastery of scripture and other doctrine). But I do find all of this very interesting and stimulating. So thanks for letting me pitch in.

  35. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    Or (possibly) Job. Though the church manuals have asserted that is not.

  36. Wade on January 16, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    #29:
    “They do not.”

    Really? Then how do they explain away the issue that complex life forms cannot be generated by lesser-complex life forms if the Second Law of Thermodynamics is applied? Order does not spin into existence from disorder spontaneously does it?

  37. Julie M. Smith on January 16, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    Forgot about Job; that’s certainly a possiblity as well.

  38. Jared on January 16, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    Re: #36

    complex life forms cannot be generated by lesser-complex life forms

    What do you mean? That’s what is seen in the fossil record and supported by genetic evidence.

    Regarding the 2nd law, let me refer you here. It’s really more about energy than complexity.

    You might also think about why the 2nd law of thermodynamics does not prevent an embryo from developing into an adult, or why some people are born with six fingers.

  39. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    Hmmm… So you (Tim and Julie) are fine with the entire books of Job and Jonah being allegories but not with the Garden of Eden story being an allegory?

    Why?

    It seems to me that we can still have a literal Adam on earth even if his being cast out of paradise represented his coming to earth… Am I missing something?

  40. Julie M. Smith on January 16, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    Geoff J, what makes the difference for me are things like the 1931 1P statement (if I am remembering that correctly–I’m thinking of the one cited in the Encyc of Mormonism article on evolution) stating something to the effect that Adam is a direct and lineal descendant of God. So I think claiming that there was no historical Adam is too far afield of what the prophets have taught. But I am willing to consider that any part of Adam’s experience we may only know of through allegorical description. I think we are on the same page here.

  41. Wade on January 16, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    You might also think about why the 2nd law of thermodynamics does not prevent an embryo from developing into an adult…

    It doesn’t prevent the growth process because an embryo receives the requisite energy from its mother until it can use its own energy to evolve into a full grown adult. An embryo possesses the comlexity already innately within it, i.e. the DNA and chromosome structure, that it needs in order to become a full grown adult. It seems simple to me to see the difference between a human embryo and primordial gases.

    It’s really more about energy than complexity.

    I don’t wish to separate the two. Refer to my statement again, I used the word generate.

  42. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    Good point Geoff, though neither of us said we actually believed them to be allegories. But, surely you realize the difference between the stories of Job/Jonah and the story which is one of the pillars of Christianity.

    Man had to introduce sin into the world through a physical act of his own free will. God could not do this by himself. Doing so would negate the need for the Savior. As God could not introduce sin into the world Himself, nor could he save us from it by Himself. Someone had to do it for Him.

    More to come on this subject. Rusty asked me post a few things on the Creation/Fall. It will all make sense soon. :)

  43. Julie M. Smith on January 16, 2006 at 7:17 pm

    “Man had to introduce sin into the world through a physical act of his own free will. ”

    Did it _have_ to be a physical act? What if it was a decision or an attitude? I’m just throwing out ideas here; can’t say that I’ve thought about this before.

  44. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    Julie,

    The good news we can have a historical Adam even if the Garden Story is an allegory for his and all of our pre-mortal experience. I am not suggesting we dispense with the idea of a literal Adam either. The idea is that a literal Adam came to this world as a result of leaving paradise (pre-mortal paradise). Of course that applies to all of us as well.

    As for the direct lineage from God — that one takes more doing. One variation I like involves MMPs (multiple mortal probations) but I’ll save that topic for another post. Another is spirit birth (which I don’t think works very well).

  45. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    Julie,

    Yes.

    Geoff J,

    What about JS pointing out where the Garden of Eden was?

  46. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    Tim: Man had to introduce sin into the world through a physical act of his own free will.

    With Julie I question this assumption.

    And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. (Moses 6:55)

    It seems to me that sin is inevitable for any person that knows good from evil (and I think this vese supports that idea)… If people started knowing good from evil then sin started becoming possible — not because somebody else fell but because they knew right from wrong and because sin “conceiveth in their hearts”. And if Adam was sent here to declare the gospel then God was doing his part to help men progress even further and come even closer to him.

  47. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    What about JS pointing out where the Garden of Eden was?

    Who knows… Maybe we should file that with Zelph and a couple of other toughies? I don’t know for sure.

  48. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    “It seems to me that sin is inevitable for any person that knows good from evil.”

    Yes. BECAUSE OF the transgression which led to the Fall. Again, had this not happened, there would be no need for a Savior. (2 Nephi 2).

  49. Wade on January 16, 2006 at 7:37 pm

    If people started knowing good from evil then sin started becoming possible — not because somebody else fell but because they knew right from wrong and because sin “conceiveth in their hearts�.

    But Adam and Eve’s posterity would not have been conceived in sin unless their parents were fallen. Sin only conceived in their hearts because they had the seeds of sin from their conception. Thus, your logic seems fundamentally flawed here.

  50. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    You may be right that using that scripture becomes a wash, Wade. The key question is what does it mean to be fallen. My latest theory is that fallen = knows good from evil. That is why I think the Garden narrative is an allegory for all of our pre-mortal experiences. The bigger mystery is how the literal, earthly Adam fits in with all of this and the people that I think were probably already here when he arrived on the scene…

  51. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    Geoff,

    So are you saying that the “Others” (yes, I watch ‘Lost’) that were here before Adam had no knowledge of Good and Evil? And that Adam came down to teach them this?

  52. Wade on January 16, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    #50:

    Interesting, but if the allegory (and I believe it is for the most part an allegory) describes our pre-mortal experiences why wouldn’t that be taught as straightforward doctrine??? It doesn’t seem to be too much of a mysterious incomprehendable to keep it hush hush.

    How would you account for DC 93:38 in your theory? I’m not saying it contradicts it, I was just wondering what your take is on it, i.e. two stages of innocence.

  53. Jared on January 16, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    Re: #41 Wade:

    You may caricature evolution as organisms coming from gas, but it is just that–a caricature. The beginning of life by abiogenesis (one hypothesis) is a different issue than evolution such as, say, the transition of terrestrial mammals to whales. Once heredity and capacity for variation in heritable traits are established, I don’t see what the conceptual problem is (especially regarding thermodynamics.)

  54. Clark on January 16, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    Wade, regarding the 2cd law of thermodynamics, the earth is not a closed system. It is in contact with the universe. So there is no violation.

  55. Jeff on January 16, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    Geoff, you make my head spin…in a good way.

    I’ve always wondered if God somehow evolved this earth over millions of years to prepare it for human habitation, with life and death and natural selection, etc, then created a ‘microcosm’ for lack of a better world, an immortal sphere or garden (Eden), where Adam and Eve were introduced, instructed, and eventually became mortal. Then, either they were removed, or the environment was removed from them, and life as we know it began for them.

    Gives room for the dinosaurs, and gotta admit, without fossil fuels, Pres. Hinckley would have a much harder time visiting the ends of the earth on his private jet. Imagine how many fewer lives he would have been able to change for the better. Go dinosaurs!!

  56. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    Tim: So are you saying that the “Others� (yes, I watch ‘Lost’) that were here before Adam had no knowledge of Good and Evil? And that Adam came down to teach them this?

    Great — now you’re making me actually think about this Tim…

    In answer to your questions — no and no.

    If (and I realize this is a huge if for most of us) evolution is an accurate description of how human life appeared on this planet then the planet was already peopled by sentient humans (meaning they too knew right from wrong) prior to the first great prophet, Adam. Now whether Adam arrived as a visitor or was born here and called as a prophet would be a complete guess so I’ll leave it (even I have limits on my wild speculations, believe it or not).

    So what about those people? How could they survive prior to the introduction of the gospel to earth? Probably the same way all the people that have lived and died with no knowledge of the gospel since then I suppose. I trust the atonement of Christ is sufficient for all.

    I actually think this model fits better with the continuum of Intelligences that God showed to Abraham in Abr. 3. The continuum seems to go from no intelligence all the way to God without breaks. That gradation of intelligences spoken of fits well with evolution too I think.

  57. Brooke on January 16, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Re: Geoff 55

    If evolution is an accurate description of how human life appeared on this planet then the planet was already peopled by sentient humans.

    Why does that have to be so? Why couldn’t there have been a sudden awakening within just one (or two) of the beings on earth? This being Adam and Eve. The first human spirits to enter into the beings on earth, and who paved the way for the rest…

  58. Wade on January 16, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    #53: Once heredity and capacity for variation in heritable traits are established…

    How did they get established?

    #54: the earth is not a closed system. It is in contact with the universe. So there is no violation.

    But, according to this assumption, closed systems don’t exist do they?

  59. Brooke on January 16, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    Continuing thoughts from 56

    P.S. This would also make it possible for the children of Adam and Eve to have marriages that were not incestuous…seeing that other beings would already exist on the earth that were gradually becoming self-aware and gaining humanity, after the literal first two human “parents,” Adam and Eve had become aware, and had began creating offspring.

  60. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 10:14 pm

    Brooke: Why does that have to be so? Why couldn’t there have been a sudden awakening within just one (or two) of the beings on earth?

    As I understand it, the newly discovered genetic evidence precludes all humanity arising from two people within the last 10,000 years (or 100,000 if I remember correctly). I’ll let Jared or Clark or someone who is more familiar with the research confirm that though.

    But you are right about this model solving the ol’ children of Adam and Eve incest problem…

  61. Jared on January 16, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    Re: #57
    Once heredity and capacity for variation in heritable traits are established…

    How did they get established?

    Nobody knows yet, though there are interesting ideas. This looks like a good overview. See also this.

  62. Brooke on January 16, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    I did not intend to mean that Adam and Eve are the sole parents of all humanity. I meant just the opposite, in fact–that there were many others populating the earth that also eventually became self-aware human beings. I was only suggesting that perhaps Eve and Adam were literally the first two beings to knowingly commit sin.

  63. meems on January 16, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    #47 – What about JS pointing out where the Garden of Eden was?
    Who knows… Maybe we should file that with Zelph and a couple of other toughies? I don’t know for sure.

    Haha! I was just thinking before I got to this one, “Where does Missouri fit into all of this??”

  64. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    Brooke,

    Good question. I am of the opinion that “sentience” in both spirits and in the development of humans here is probably more comparable to a dimmer switch than to a light switch coming on. I think it is a very gradual process (with the range being on a continuum a la Abraham 3). Therefore, I think it might be more appropriate to assume the earth and its inhabitants were ready to hear the fullness of the gospel so God sent Adam to teach it.

  65. Otto on January 16, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    This is hopping backwards in the thread a bit, but I think the “back story” on “Man, his origin and destiny” bears on this discussion in an interesting way. Apologies, btw, if everybody is already familiar with this.

    As I recall from my reading of Eric Robert Paul’s Science, Religion, and Mormon Cosmology,” the controversy about MHO&D preceded Henry Eyring’s argument with President Smith. In fact, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote the book in some version earlier, as an apostle, but fell into a lively ongoing argument will his colleague Hugh B. Brown, who wanted to write his own “science-friendly” book. As I recall, David O. McKay asked both of them to leave their projects alone — that he didn’t want either of them speaking for the church because he didn’t want the church to take a position. Am I being sacriligiously cynical in my observation that only because Joseph Fielding Smith outlived Hugh B. Brown (who, I think, was the more senior apostle of the two–somebody correct me if I’m wrong) was “MHO&D” published–and, though not canonized, per se, heavily influenced church thinking (especially CES–which included some young-Earth stuff and other quack science in the Old Testament manual until pretty recently I think).

    A couple of people have pointed out that several General Authorities have seemed to endorse Creationism while few have endorsed envolution. I think this is becuase among the brethren the arugment wasn’t ever really between those who believed in evolution and those who didn’t but those who believed religion should guide scientific thought (thus, Creationism) and those who thought they should operate independently in their respective spheres. In other words, those who thought the Church should take a stance on the topic and those who thought it shouldn’t. So of course they’re not going to loudly advocate for evolution, because their position is that it’s not their place as ecclesiastical leaders to do so.

  66. Veritas on January 16, 2006 at 11:18 pm

    Ok…why are we assuming adam and eve were 6000 years ago or something? I had never heard of that. Why couldn’t Adam and Eve been on the earth millions or billions of years ago? ( I often think about our limited concept of time and wonder if our misunderstanding of scripture and/or science has something to do with a lack of understanding of time??) Just some random thoughs and questions….please answer Im really curious…

  67. Jared on January 16, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    Otto,

    Joseph Fielding Smith was senior to Hugh B. Brown in the Quorum of the Twelve. However, Hugh B. Brown was a counselor to David O. McKay in the First Presidency. When McKay died and Joseph Fielding Smith became president, Hugh B. Brown was not retained in the First Presidency but returned to the Quorum of the Twelve. Apparently he was the first member of the First Presidency to not be retained in the next First Presidency since Brigham Young’s time. It seems differences over the priesthood policy was the reason.

  68. Jared on January 16, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    #65 Otto,

    I just lost my comment. Anyway, Joseph Fielding Smith was senior in the Quorum of the Twelve, but Hugh B. Brown was a counselor in the First Presidency until David O. McKay died, and so was senior to JFS during that time. However, JFS became the president after McKay’s death and Brown was not retained in the First Presidency.

  69. Geoff J on January 16, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    Otto — Thanks. That’s a useful backstory I think.

    Veritas — The ~6000 years thing is just standard biblical timeline dating based on the given information on the generations from Adam down to Abraham down to the present.

  70. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    Veritas,

    The 6000 year number has to do with following the genealogy of Adam down to Abraham down to Noah, etc, taking their ages into consideration. There is a chronology table in every institute and SS, manual detailing this.

    There are also the “Seven Seals” with each seal representing a thousand years. We are now supposedly living during the end of the sixth seal. (Rev 6)

  71. Jim F. on January 16, 2006 at 11:45 pm

    Tim Jacob: I don’t have access to Institute Manuals, but I have the Sunday School manual for the Old Testament, and I don’t see any such table in it. By the way, the 6,000 year dating you are referring to was calculated by Bishop James Ussher, of Ireland, in the lat 1600s.

  72. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    Jim F.,
    You’re right. I should have checked first. However it is in the institute manual, which I have with me.

  73. Tim Jacob on January 16, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Geoff,

    The Bloggernacle would be a much more boring place without you. I appreciate your candidness and willingness to debate your ideas. You would get along well with my father–not a bad thing.

    I think to follow the Fall as an allegory, I would need the allegory to be pretty well spelled-out. What I mean is such things like:

    What does the Garden represent?
    Is Satan’s role allegorical–if so what is he representing?
    Why was Eve first to partake of the fruit?
    Why did Adam refuse the fruit (if we are to believe the narrative that he was offered beforehand)?
    Is the Atonement (which is inextricably linked w/ the Fall) also purely allegorical, or literal?

    These questions could go on and on, as well you know. I realize you were just throwing an idea out here, and you yourself may not really believe wholeheartedly, so you may not have this thing thought out the whole way through.

    I just think there are too many references and teachings about the Fall, from Lehi to King Benjamin to Paul to Joseph Smith, that to think of it as purely allegorical is quite a leap to make.

    Which brings be to a round of scriptures:

    2 Ne 2:25 “Adam fell that men might be…”

    But “man” already “was”?

    Mosiah 3:19 “…natural man is an enemy of God, and has been from the fall_of_Adam_, and will be forever…”

    But you’re saying there were “enemies” beforehand.

    You don’t need to respond to these right away. I’m hoping you’ll take everything and possibly repost something later when taking everything into consideration and being able to reconcile it.

  74. Tim Jacob on January 17, 2006 at 12:01 am

    BTW, I’m not saying I’m completely convinced by the 6000 year figure. I was merely stating, like Geoff did, where the number comes from.

  75. meems on January 17, 2006 at 12:15 am

    Great ideas, everyone. I’ve always had my own assumptions, but no doctrinal basis for them, so I love reading all these different ideas.
    Now, to further show my monolithic ignorance, where do tool using neanderthals and cro-magnum types come into play? Hard to reconcile that with traditional Adam and Eve…

  76. meems on January 17, 2006 at 12:19 am

    The 6000 year number can also be found in the back of every LDS Bible in the Bible Dictionary. Maybe under “chronology”?

  77. Wade on January 17, 2006 at 12:41 am

    # 61:
    Nobody knows yet, though there are interesting ideas. This looks like a good overview. See also this.

    You should know there are very serious problems with these “ideas”.

    Darwin said, “All the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth…descended from some one primordial form.” The problem: evolutionists fail to establish the generation of this one primordial form (the cell)!

    The first idea: Proteins produced from amino acids created the first cells. Presumptively, these amino acids were produced from the combination of methane, ammonia, water vapor, hydrogen, and lighting strikes. This theory has been proven to be false by geochemists, geologists, paleobiologists, and biologists who have established that the earth’s atmosphere was oxygenic (See work by Harry Clemmey, Nick Badham, Erich Dimroth, Michael Kimberly, J. Lumsden, and D.O. Hall etc.). Because oxygen was part of the “primordial soup”, organic synthesis was impossible! But, neo-darwinists have clung to the Miller-Urey “dogma” that has now taken place of empirical science!

    The second idea: Because the Miller-Urey experiment fails to explain the formation of proteins, neo-darwinists hypothesize that RNA is the great origin of proteins and thereby cell life. But these scientists fail to demonstrate how RNA could have formed before living cells were around to make it. The fact is, living cells must have predated RNA. Neo-darwinists cling to RNA, but the reality is that it is just a straw man used to get to the greater theory – as you call it: heredity and variation!

  78. Gary on January 17, 2006 at 1:54 am

    Jonathan N (#25),

    Remembering that nothing was said in either #7 or #8 about the length of creation days, let’s put your CES quotation in a more complete context and see what we get.

    Generally speaking, those who accept the scriptural account subscribe to one of three basic theories about the age of the world. All three theories depend on how the word day, as used in the creation account, is interpreted.

    The first theory says that the word day is understood as it is used currently and therefore means a period of 24 hours. According to this theory, the earth was created in one week, or 168 hours. Thus, the earth would be approximately six thousand years old. (Many scholars agree that there were approximately four thousand years from Adam to Christ and that there have been nearly two thousand years since Christ was born.) Very few people, either members of the Church or members of other religions, hold to this theory, since the evidence for longer processes involved in the Creation is substantial.

    A second theory argues that Abraham was told through the Urim and Thummim that one revolution of Kolob, the star nearest to the throne of God, took one thousand earth years (see Abraham 3:2–4). In other words, one could say that one day of the Lord’s time equals one thousand earth years. Other scriptures support this theory, too (see Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8; Facsimile No. 2 from the book of Abraham, figures 1, 4). If the word day in Genesis was used in this sense, then the earth would be approximately thirteen thousand years old (seven days of a thousand years each for the Creation plus the nearly six thousand years since Adam’s fall). Some see Doctrine and Covenants 77:12 as additional scriptural support for this theory.

    Although the majority of geologists, astronomers, and other scientists believe that even this long period is not adequate to explain the physical evidence found in the earth, there are a small number of reputable scholars who disagree. These claim that the geologic clocks are misinterpreted and that tremendous catastrophes in the earth’s history speeded up the processes that normally may take thousands of years. They cite evidence supporting the idea that thirteen thousand years is not an unrealistic time period….

    A third theory says that the word day refers to a period of an undetermined length of time, thus suggesting an era. The word is still used in that sense in such phrases as “in the day of the dinosaurs.” The Hebrew word for day used in the creation account can be translated as “day” in the literal sense, but it can also be used in the sense of an indeterminate length of time (see Genesis 40:4, where day is translated as “a season”; Judges 11:4, where a form of day is translated as “in the process of time”; see also Holladay, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, pp. 130–31). Abraham says that the Gods called the creation periods days (see Abraham 4:5, 8).

    If this last meaning was the sense in which Moses used the word day, then the apparent conflict between the scriptures and much of the evidence seen by science as supporting a very old age for the earth is easily resolved…. Therefore, while Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn truth from many different fields of study (see D&C 88:77–79), an attempt to establish any theory as the official position of the Church is not justifiable.”

    Okay, now we know that the Church doesn’t have an official position regarding the length of creation days. I’ve said all along (here, here, here, and here) that two questions I cannot answer are: 1. How long were Adam and Eve in the Garden? and 2. How long were the creation days?

    So tell me, Jonathan, what is in either #7 or #8 that reflects a common misunderstanding of the Church’s position, particularly as it relates to the CES manual???

    Elder Russell M. Nelson’s views about no death before the fall are mentioned in #7 and the fact that the Church has consistently taught no death before the fall for at least the past 36 years was mentioned in #8. Let’s now go back to the same CES manual and see what it says about no death before the fall.

    “The account of creation in Genesis was not a spirit creation, but it was in a particular sense, a spiritual creation. This, of course, needs some explanation. The account in Genesis, chapters one and two, is the account of the creation of the physical earth. The account of the placing of all life upon the earth, up and until the fall of Adam, is an account, in a sense, of the spiritual creation of all of these, but it was also a physical creation. When the Lord said he would create Adam, he had no reference to the creation of his spirit for that had taken place ages and ages before when he was in the world of spirits and known as Michael. [Moses 2:26–28; Genesis 1:26–28.]

    “Adam’s body was created from the dust of the earth, but at that time it was a spiritual earth. Adam had a spiritual body until mortality came upon him through the violation of the law under which he was living, but he also had a physical body of flesh and bones.

    “…Now what is a spiritual body? It is one that is quickened by spirit and not by blood…. After the fall, which came by a transgression of the law under which Adam was living, the forbidden fruit had the power to create blood and change his nature and mortality took the place of immortality, and all things, partaking of the change, became mortal. Now I repeat, the account in Genesis one and two, is the account of the physical creation of the earth and all upon it, but the creation was not subject to mortal law until after the fall. It was, therefore, a spiritual creation and so remained until the fall when it became temporal, or mortal. [D&C 77:6.]” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:76–77.)

    Moses 3:7 adds a significant phrase to Genesis 2:7: “And man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also.” President Joseph Fielding Smith explained what was meant by the term flesh.

    “So, Adam was the first man upon the earth, according to the Lord’s statement, and the first flesh also. That needs a little explanation.

    “Adam did not come to this earth until it was prepared for him. The animals were here. Plants were here. The Lord did not bring him here to a desolate world, and then bring other creatures. It was all prepared for him, just according to the order that is written in our scriptures, and when it was all ready for Adam he was placed upon the earth.

    “Then what is meant by the ‘first flesh’? It is simple when you understand it. Adam was the first of all creatures to fall and become flesh, and flesh in this sense means mortality, and all through our scriptures the Lord speaks of this life as flesh, while we are here in the flesh, so Adam became the first flesh. There was no other mortal creature before him, and there was no mortal death until he brought it, and the scriptures tell you that. It is here written, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Seek Ye Earnestly, pp. 280–81.)

    Also worth reading is the lengthy section, “Points to Ponder,” on pages 33-36.

    Once more, Jonathan, what is in either #7 or #8 that reflects a common misunderstanding of the Church’s position, particularly as it relates to the CES manual???

  79. Gary on January 17, 2006 at 1:56 am

    Julie M. Smith (#26) claims “Gary [in #8] is not accurately describing the church’s position on the issue.”

    Which issue, Julie?

    The claim that there IS a scriptural mandate for Church members to follow the teachings of the apostles and prophets.

    Or the claim that, in the 36 years since Joseph Fielding Smith became Church President, the teachings of the apostles and prophets (members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve) have been very unified on the subject of no death before the fall.

    I’ll ask you, as Wade appropriately asked (in #17), “Can we at least have some references cited for us here.”

  80. Veritas on January 17, 2006 at 9:17 am

    So since we are tossing around crazy what if’s….
    Time as we know of it in our universe is relative to our distance from the sun, right? Soooo…(and these aren’t rhetorical questions but lazy research since I realize you all know more about the science than me) WHAT IF….our distance to the sun or the structure of time has changed(or even simpler the definitions of time), or if the translation to ‘thousand’ is a weak translation….what if a thousand years to us in modern times would be described as a million? I mean, if Abraham lived to be 900 or something, doesn’t it seem something to do with either time or the way we measure time or…something….has changed?

  81. Geoff J on January 17, 2006 at 11:08 am

    Good questions Tim (#71). I’ll have to post further on the implications of this Garden of Eden as Allegory idea and explore the implications as you mentioned. I’ll plan to do that back home at the Thang when my guest posting stint is done here.

    Here are a few quickies though:
    “Adam fell that men might be…” — progressing to the point of knowing good from evil is what made our spirit’s intelligences of a high enough order to be called “men”. The point is to continue to progress in intelligence past the level of “men” though — it is to progress to the highest levels where God is. Some will reject the idea that we progressed from below men to become men, but if we have been the intelligence level of “men” forever, it seems illogical that more time would change that… If we progressed from below, it seems much more likely that we could progress above next to me.

    “Natural man is an enemy to God” — see my post called “The Natural Man = Causally Determined Man”. The idea I have is that having progressed to the point of “knowing good from evil” we are able to choose our response to stimulus now. But usually we respond naturally anyway. That may be part of what being the natural man is — failing to use our free will to be better than what comes naturally… which means we are not progressing spiritually… means we are failing to assist God in his goals to bring to pass our eternal life.

    Look for more at the Thang later…

  82. Ben S. on January 17, 2006 at 11:09 am

    Jim F. and whoever else wants them- The Institute manuals are available online at http://ldsces.org/manual_index.asp

  83. Geoff J on January 17, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Gary (#76),

    I don’t think I’ve seen the scriptural mandate to follow NDBF Gary’s interpretation of the mind and will of the Lord and the Brethren… Where is that one?

    Besides, I think there was no death before the fall anyway — I just think the fall represents our intelligences progressing to the point of being at the human level. Since intelligences are eternal, of course there was no death before that point in our progression.

  84. Tim J. on January 17, 2006 at 11:25 am

    “Look for more at the Thang”

    Thanks for your responses. I will eagerly await the fleshed-out version when it arrives. I’ve always enjoyed lively debates about the Fall.

  85. Julie M. Smith on January 17, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    Re #71–

    Just for future reference, the Institute manuals are all available online at http://www.ldsces.org.

    Re #79–

    Gary, I’m not going to engage you because, as I said before, I think that you are not willing to entertain alternative viewpoints and so I would just be wasting my breath. I made the point that you are not accurately representing the Church’s position on issues related to origins for the benefit of other readers and I would encourage anyone in that group to refer to, for example, the entry on evolution in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

  86. Jared on January 17, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    #77 Wade:

    I don’t know what you are trying to prove. Abiogenesis and related origin of life issues are not my hobby horse, but I am not ignorant that there are problems. I admitted as much above. So what? You might be interested in this article that–get this–was published in a well-known science journal and discusses problems with various origin of life hypotheses.

    Where there are uncertainties and problems, scientists see opportunities. On the other hand, you seem to see it as material with which to gloat over how dumb scientists are with, I’m beginning to suspect, the aid of some anti-evolution literature.

    I am no godless materialist, and I will not defend such a position, but neither will I sit still when caricatures and irrelevant arguments are put forth against well supported science–at least as long as I think anything productive can come of it, which I am now starting to doubt.

    I wish you no ill, only that you would have a more positive and curious attitude toward science.

    (Incidentally, I find it curious that you hold up certain critics of Urey-Miller and proclaim organic synthesis “impossible” but express doubt in #24 that scientists really know anything about the early earth.)

  87. Jared on January 17, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    Re #85

    Julie,

    I just have to chuckle to myself because you’ve unwittingly ventured into another of Gary’s pet peeves–the evolution EOM article. (Though I don’t totally agree with his analysis of it, I think he does make some good points.) It’s like you’ve just announced that you will not mess with a badger and then you pour water down its hole.

  88. Clark on January 17, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Wade (#58) “But, according to this assumption, closed systems don’t exist do they?”

    Typically the universe as a whole is taken to be a closed system. Although for technical reasons there are questions about whether the universe as a whole necessarily follows the laws of thermodynamics. Further there are new speculations about multiverses, such as those by Lee Smolin, that entails contact of a sort between the universe. I’m not sure if that has any implications for entropy.

    The point being though that thermodynamics says nothing about evolution. Everything evolution says happens on earth is fully within physical theory.

  89. Geoff J on January 17, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    It’s like you’ve just announced that you will not mess with a badger and then you pour water down its hole.

    Lol! Nice Jared. Now I gotta get Giliam to come by so we can fire things up and at least crack 100 comments here…

  90. Wade on January 17, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    # 86:
    neither will I sit still when caricatures and irrelevant arguments are put forth against well supported science…

    First of all, I love science even though for the most part I am pretty ignorant. I think most scientists are honest seekers in their own fields and when I suggested that it may be possible that scientists are miscalculating the age of the earth, I didn’t mean to convey any sort of hatred or closed mindedness which you seem to atribute to me.

    However, I take issue with your statement that arguments tending to disprove abiogenesis are irrelevant! Your outright dismissal of these arguments is proof that dogma seems to prevail among neo-darwinists. As for your assumption that evolution is “well supported science”, I just think you are wrong. Darwin’s tree of life and all supporting evidence of it, including fossils, moths, fruitflies, etc. have been seriously questioned by scientists. I find it interesting that these challenges go unheaded by neo-darwinists.

    All I’m trying to say is that I wish you had a more curious view toward science too! Have you considered reading “anti-evolution” science?

  91. Julie M. Smith on January 17, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    Jared–

    Well of course Gary doesn’t like it–it shows what is wrong with his position. Again, I’m not interested in engaging him because I don’t think that would be productive–I’m just warning anyone reading not to take what he says at face value. (I assume the regulars already know that!)

  92. Julie M. Smith on January 17, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    Oh, and does that mean badgers don’t like water? Which reminds me (non sequitor alert): Is it true that ravens don’t feed their young?

  93. Geoff J on January 17, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    Julie,

    I think it means badgers are like us… They like water — they just don’t like loads of it dumped on their heads while they lounge in the living room. ;-)

  94. Jack on January 17, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    Here’s an interesting article by Orson Scott Card:

    http://www.meridianmagazine.com/ideas/060116creation.html

  95. Julien on January 17, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    Hello there!! Shouldn’t somebody welcome a 16-year old high school student reading intellectual Mormon blogs at that age, while other Mormons haven’t read a single page of scripture?! (I’m exaggerating..) cf. Brooke, #4 – I see Geoff B has done so in his comment, but anyways…. Just want to encourage the young generation, which I’m a part of myself (though a little older… ;))

  96. Geoff J on January 17, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    Hey! I’m not Geoff B.! (Though he does have lovely first name…)

  97. Julien on January 17, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    OK, OK, I just read the other comments and see that others have done just that…. My bad – just read before you write…… *hit myself on the head*

  98. Julien on January 17, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    I’m just gonna shut my mouth, sorry, Geoff J., no idea how I came up with that B. ….. It’s too late for me here (in Belgium….)

  99. Geoff J on January 17, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    Don’t feel bad Julien — the ‘nacle has a Geoff B. too. (Blogs over at M*) People get us confused on a regular basis (I have no idea how that could happen of course…)

  100. Otto on January 17, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    Ugh. Orson Scott Card has shown a tendency in recent years to hold forth on subjects on which he has no authority, just because he has an attentive audience. (The selfconsciousness with which he attacks “Darwinists” as “credentialists” bears this out.) He reads one book on ID, meant for lay readers, and is convinced. He infers that because “Darwinists” don’t bother to speak to a lay audience to defend their position, it’s because its indefensible. The reality is that the vast, vast majority of evolutionary biologists are simply awestruck that, in the post-Scopes era, this public dialogue is even necessary. Also, Card claims that scientists cover up the “complex systems” argument (i.e., that complex systems such as eyeballs or whatever could not have evolved because they wouldn’t have an evolutionary advantage until they were fully formed), as if it’s a chink in Darwin’s armor. When I learned about evolution in college, that was one of the main topics of discussion; evolutionary biologists see that as an area to explore–that’s what they do. “Credentialism” is the perennial cry of quack scientists; you hear the same thing from the “scientists” hawking weight-loss formulas and herbal remedies on late-night infomercials.

  101. Jared on January 17, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    Re #90 Wade,

    If I misundestood you, I apologize.

    My reference to an irrelevant argument was the 2nd law of thermodyanmics and its bearing on evolution. I am not wedded to abiogenesis. I think there are some provocative ideas there, but I’ve already admitted (more than once) that nobody has the answer yet.

    Oh yes, scientists question the neo-darwinian synthesis, but probably not in the way you mean. I don’t know what scientists you have in mind, but most likely you are referring to either creationists or the handfull of intelligent design advocates like Michael Behe. They may provide food for thought, but I don’t find them particularly enlightening or trustworthy on science issues.

  102. Tim Jacob on January 17, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    Otto,

    I’m not sure if you read the entire article. He’s actually defending Evolution. He’s simply writing about argumentation or the lack thereof that exists between Creationists and Evolutionists–how neither really argues, they just throw the same things back and forth relentlessly.

    And your first statement just proved one of his main points.

  103. will on January 17, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    Re: #94 Orson Scott Card’s Meridian article,

    Meridian is as hostile to science as it is to left-wing politics. And Br. Card is a very talented storyteller, but has the unfortunate tendency to hold strong opinions in areas on which he is poorly informed. For example, he says:

    The irony is that there are plenty of Darwinists who are perfectly good writers, capable of explaining the science to us well enough to show us the flaws in the Designists’ arguments. The fact that they refuse even to try to explain is, again, a confession that they don’t have an answer.

    There are many pop-science sources that explain the fallacies of ID. If Br. Card is unaware of them, then it means that (A) he hasn’t looked very hard, and (B) he should read them before presuming to write on the subject.

  104. Otto on January 17, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    Tim,

    No, I read the article. I get what he’s saying. It says nothing new within the ID dialogue. I’m especially amused that he rolls out the “ID doesn’t say WHO the Creator is — maybe it’s an alien!” idea. Yes, that will distance you from the Creationists and give you some credibility.

    What is his point that my first statement proves? That there is a tendency among scientists to discard the opinions of people who lack the credentials to make them authoritatively? I suppose he’s right there. There is that tendency. And what I’m saying is that it’s a good tendency!

    I just find his “here, my fellow saints, I’ve read all you need to know, so let me give you the straight dope” attitude very distasteful.

  105. Tim Jacob on January 17, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    Otto,
    “That there is a tendency among scientists to discard the opinions of people who lack the credentials to make them authoritatively?”

    Yes. They do not engage in debate, they simply say, “you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a scientist, you’re not. I’m right, you’re wrong.”

    This is all he is asserting, the foolishness of how evolution and ID are debated. Neither really listen to each other, they just resort to saying things exactly as you did in your first statement.

    Again, OSC believes in evolution, and wants it taught in schools accordingly.

    “Evolution happens and obviously happened in the natural world, and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories yet to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level.

    There is no reason for science teachers in the public schools to take a single step beyond that statement I made above. It allows the teaching of every speck of scientific biology; and it makes moot the as-yet-unknowable issue of how each specific complex biochemical system came into existence.”

    I don’t see any problem with this.

  106. will on January 17, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    Tim, the problem with your quote from OSC is that it attacks a strawman. Scientists don’t claim a complete knowledge of anything. If designists could be satisfied by scientists admitting that they don’t have all the answers, then we wouldn’t be having this debate.

    Contrary to OSC’s claim, evolutionary biologists are not trying to silence the opposition. Sound arguments and actual evidence would earn the designists a place in the classroom, but they’ve provided neither.

  107. Otto on January 17, 2006 at 6:41 pm

    Tim,

    The reason “they do not engage in the debate” is because the tenets they (evolutionary biologists) are defending are so overwhelmingly accepted by such a vast majority of scientists in their field, they think it’s poor use of their effort. I imagine they resent having to have this argument at all simply for PR’s sake.

    Your proposed disclaimer statement is nice, but in fact that kind of skepticism and openness is already built into scientific methodology. Otherwise evolutionary biologists wouldn’t be applying for grants anymore because their work would be done.

    I don’t know if a statement like that at the beginning of Freshman Bio is all OSC wants, but it falls short of what the IDers want, and it _certainly_ falls short of the goals to which the Christian right seeks to employ ID.

  108. Gary on January 17, 2006 at 10:36 pm

    Geoff J (#83),

    You mock me because I look to the apostles and prophets, while you put forth your own personal theory about the fall. Where did your theory originate? Do you mind me asking?

  109. Gary on January 17, 2006 at 10:37 pm

    Julie (#85/#91),

    Jared is right. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism article about Evolution is one of my pet peeves.

    The article is fundamentally flawed. Two of the Church’s First Presidencies are misquoted, a third is quoted totally out of context, and its claim that in 1931 there was “intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution” is completely and utterly false.

    I suspect your “other readers” probably have more intelligence than you seem to be giving them credit for and I would encourage anyone in that group to give my point of view at least a cursory glance.

  110. Julie M. Smith on January 17, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    Gary, I’m standing by my decision not to engage you on this issue, even when you bait me. Best wishes and thanks for the links–they are very, very revealing.

  111. Geoff J on January 17, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    Hehe…

    Oh Gary, of course I don’t mind you asking! Isn’t it obvious that my theory came from my own little melon? Yup, I generated it in my own noggin after studying the revelations and many other relevant facts. I could be wrong of course and reserve the right to change my mind at any time upon the reception of further light and knowledge. But the difference between my approach and yours is that I tell people to take or leave my theories as they will — I do not try to zealously impose my interpretations of the scriptures and the words of church leaders on others by insisting that thinking like I do is the only way to follow the brethren.

  112. Gary on January 17, 2006 at 11:29 pm

    Slow down, Geoff. I just read your comment three times. You don’t even claim to follow the brethren.

  113. Gary on January 17, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    Re #110, I’ve been banned in Austin. How cool is that?

  114. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 12:06 am

    Lol!

    Niiiiiice Gary. As ever, you crack me up bro.

  115. Joseph Stanford on January 18, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    #94 and others- FWIW, I read the Card article and found it pretty close to target. I think he is too dismissive of the motivations and intelligence of the “scientific camp.” However, I think he is right that a lot of the argument between “IDers” and “Darwinists” is people talking past each other without listening, and often without acknowledging their different underlying assumptions.

    This is not my area of science, but I can state unequivocally from involvement in other areas of science that very smart and well educated people in any scientific field- for that matter, in any field of human knowledge, people usually but not necessarily with credentials- get stuck and blind in particular prejudices that prevent them from even getting past a knee-jerk reaction to examine someone else’s view that comes across to them as crazy for whatever reason. Fortunately, it has also been my experience that when you get these people together and get them to slow down enough to listen to each other, often they can come to some kind of common understanding, or at least respect each other’s views as considered based on different starting assumptions and not purely bullheaded. I think his proposed common statement for both camps is pretty accurate:
    “Evolution happens and obviously happened in the natural world, and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories yet to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level.”
    #100- if not being a studied expert in an area disqualifies us to write articles or make comments, I think it would wipe out the majority of the bloggernacle, not to mention the internet, and all of journalism.

  116. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Evolution is a well established principle of life on earth. The Church doesn’t have to take an official position on it, just like it doesn’t have to take an official position on gravity, electrons, or photosynthesis. These are all well established phenomena.

    I like to think about what the Lord said in D&C 121:33–
    How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

    What knowledge has been poured down upon our heads since this revelation in 1839? Here are just a few:

    Age of the Earth
    Electrons
    Protons
    Germs cause diseases
    quantum mechanics
    black holes
    other planetary systems
    speed of light
    genes
    DNA
    Uranium
    X-rays
    magnetars
    quarks
    biological evolution

    Sound like a flood gate of knowledge? Like the mighty Missouri river pouring down on us? Why would we want to go against this flood of knowledge? Why would we want to hold up a 2,000 year old biblical text as an umbrella to try and hinder the flow of this knowledge?

    What a great time in the history of the earth to be alive! While there is much truth to be found in our oldest religious texts, a comprehensive description of the physical universe is not one of them. Does anyone here in the blogernacle, with billions of electrons streaming towards their face from their computer screens really want to go back to an age without all this knowledge? When your life consisted of cooking lentils on a fire for dinner?

    As Latter-day Saints we are challenged to go out into the world, get all the knowledge there is, and bring it back to Zion to incorporate it into its proper sphere. We need the revelations to help us do that. But we also need all this knowledge that God has been pouring down on us for the last 185 years since the First Vision.

    Debating whether evolution takes place is beneath us. Figuring out its limitations is a worthy goal. Obtaining a better understanding of the scriptures, and their limitations, is another.

    How man people here have taken an upper division college course in Genetics or Evolution? If you have a problem with evolution, go down to your nearest university and enroll in a course. Do whatever you have to do to get the background necessary to even discuss evolution intelligently. If you aren’t willing to get that background, than our discussions about this subject will be pretty shallow. I wouldn’t presume to argue a case before the Supreme Court without first going to law school, clerking, and getting a lot of advanced training and experience. Why would we presume to be able to intelligently discuss advanced scientific principles without gaining a similarly appropriate educational background?

    And while I’m at it, lets all do the same for our reading of the scriptures. OK, maybe we all can’t go back and get a masters degree in ancient texts or languages. But surely, along with our reading of Joseph Fielding Smith, we can take the time to get familiar with the basics of scholarship in some of these fields?

    We’ve all got a lot to learn. Meanwhile, we should be willing to listen to those who have already obtained some of this background, and not throw out what they are telling us because it flies in the face of our upbringing or preconceptions.

    And finally, a couple quotes from Joseph Smith:
    “One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.”

    and

    “There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge and a pumpkin for a beetle.”

  117. will on January 18, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    Joseph S (#115), if ID and Darwinism are both products of scientific methodology, how can the dispute can be attributed to different underlying assumptions? Maybe I’m not understanding your point correctly. Could you elaborate?

    The problem with a OSC’s proposed disclaimer is that it seems to unfairly single out evolutionary theory. Should similar disclaimers be applied to, say, Economics, or Civil War History?

  118. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Joseph (#115) gave us this quote–
    “Evolution happens and obviously happened in the natural world, and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories yet to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level.�

    While we don’t know everything about how evolution works, this is a bit of an overstatement. Molecular biologists have a very, very good understanding of the biochemical changes involved with evolution.

    And Will, ID is not a product of scientific methodology. That’s why it was just thrown out in court as not appropriate for teaching in a science classroom.

  119. will on January 18, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    Rob (#118), that’s my point exactly, although I did a poor job of making it.

  120. Otto on January 18, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    Joseph Stanford said:

    #100- if not being a studied expert in an area disqualifies us to write articles or make comments, I think it would wipe out the majority of the bloggernacle, not to mention the internet, and all of journalism.

    Only if we assume authority that we don’t have. If I write a comment on a blog you can take it or leave it. If, in less-discursive, more editorially rigorous venue (and you don’t know how it pains me to call Meridian “editorially rigorous”…), I’m passing judgement on the methodological merits of different sides of a contentious issue, I should probably have some expertise in the issue (beyond reading a couple of general-audience books). And if I don’t have that expertise, I should probably assume a tone of deference and/or reportage, rather than pronouncement of opinion.

    OSC pertpetuates a strategy favored by ID: claiming only to want to “present both sides of an issue,” in order to raise their position to the level of a legitimate “side” of an issue that most scientists think is no longer in serious dispute.

    Perhaps I’ll start a flat-earth advocacy group — you know, just so “both sides” of the “flat vs. round issue” get a fair hearing.

  121. Clinton on January 19, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    Comments on #65
    Was Hugh B. Brown really trying to write a Science freindly book? I think that this comments as well as those that follow may in fact be referring to Joseph Fielding Smith’s book MHOAD and B.H. Robert’s book TWTL. If in fact Hugh B. Brown had writting a book then this a portion of the Mormon Evolution vs. Creationism debate that I am unaware of and would love to have some more information.

    I also wanted to pen a few comments on this subject. I am currently a PhD student in a Cell and Developmental Biology program and the question of evolution troubled me for many years, especially as an undergraduate. It however does not trouble me in the least today. I have to admit that I took great glee in reading this post as well as all of the trailing comments. I must say that I am suprised NOT to find ANY quotes supporting death before the fall, the existence pre-adamites, and the ordered placement of simple organisms followed by more complex organism in fossil record which supports evolution that both John A. Widtsoe and James E. Talmage made.

    I will make just a few comments more from my own personal view. I watch happen on my bench every day. I study the budding yeast Sacchromyces cerevisiae. This a big fancy name for baking yeast. I am amazed at their ability to mutate and adapt to the environment. I can not deny evolution for I see it happen on my bench – commonly to my chagrin because my yeast mutate to get around the genetic manipulations I impose on them. I must say that as a biologists there is NO doubt that evolution happens and we do understand the mechanisms and the biochemistry that causes it to happen. It suprises me when I hear comments like have been vented in many of the comments above. Let me give you 3 experiences to bring my point home.

    1. A year ago I read an article about the very rough draft mapping of the chimpanzee genome. The article showed in depth side by side maps of the human genome and the chimp genome and the chromosomal shuffling of that has taken place over the last couple of million years. What was interesting was that it talked in depth about how the rearrangements had taken place through evolutionary pathways. The funny thing was that not once did the authors say – “See this is major proof for evolution!” The article was not even published in a high profile journal. Why? Because the results were not suprising AT ALL. This was exactly what evolution would predict – so it was not a big deal paper.

    2. I was sitting in a lecture on developmental biology in which the speaker was discussing his newest research on how the lung develops. As a brief side note he through up the diagram of the current knowledge of the developmental pathways for gill and air bladde in fish is developed. He then non-chalantly noted that they same developmental pathways were used for both just as evolution would predict. In fact the direction he had taken and which was enourmously productive was guided by the knoweldge that this would be true. Again the researcher assumed evolution and the evidence for evolution was not a big deal because it was exactly what was expected.

    3. The basic structure of biological research is base on the evolution. Most non-biologists don’t realize that when biologists ask biological question they first work out the process in bacteria, then use this information to understand it in yeasts, then use the new insight gleaned from yeasts to study the process in worms and flies, the use the insigts gained in flies to study the process in fish, then use the knowledge gleaned from fish to study the process in mice and rats, then use the insights from mice and rats to study the process in human. At each step approxiamately 90% of the information gleaned is applicable to the next organism. This is how biology is done. It works. It is also based on evolutionary relationships between these animals.

    Towards the end of the comments there was some discussion about intelligent design and especially Orson Scott Cards comments in the Meridian magazine. Personally I find the ID movement’s books to be interesting. I have read Behe’s Darwin’s Black box and one book by William Dembski’s. I really wanted to know what these authors had to say and to understand their theories. I tried my best NOT to allow them to talk past me. But in the end I found their works sorely lacking in scientific merit. The only book I feel I could reccomend on the suject is a book called “Finding Darwin’s God” by Kennith Miller. This is the same Kennith Miller who testified at the trials in Dover Pennsylvania who completely destroyed Behe’s arguments. Why do I recommend this book? Becuase the entire book is about what creationism and ID do to our belief in God and how they are incompatible with his (and Mormon) conceptions of God.

    Clinton

  122. Brooke on January 21, 2006 at 11:10 pm

    Re: Clinton, 121

    I suggested “Finding Darwin’s God” in comment 4. I actually have not read it myself yet…I have to see if I can find it somewhere in my house. But my brother read it and loved it and I have heard very good things about it, including your above comment.

  123. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    Hey Geoff, sorry I wasn’t able to participate in this thread by contributing a few overly inflamatory comments about religion and evolution. I have been in Taiwan for the past 2 weeks. I’m going to start going through the comments to see if I can add anything of worth.

  124. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    Regarding the original post,

    It has always been my reading that chapter 2 does refer to the spiritual creation followed by the physical creation in chapter 3. The big question, however, is what, exactly, did the “spiritual creation” refer to? Consider how in Gen. the reading is that of 2 creations which can, with a little bit of finagling, be read as a spiritual and then physical creation. In Moses (1830-ish) the spiritual creation is made more explicit, but what exactly this would have been is still left out. It should be noted that at that time Joseph’s beliefs closely paralleled that of other protestants in his neighborhood. I think that Michael Quinn was probably right in his assertion that this probably refers to a Platonic version of a pre-existence. We lived before this world in the “mind of God” so to speak.

    With the Book of Abraham, however, things all start to change as Joseph really starts to introduce doctrines which separate his group from other Christians. In this context, however, the spiritual creation is completely left out while a whole chapters worth of “planning seesions” are introduced. The simplest reading of this transition is that those planning sessions ARE the spritual creation and we should think that Joseph believed it to include anything other than it being a creation in the “minds of the gods.”

    Similarly, the temple session which was formulated soon after that in some form also fails to mention anything like a spiritual creation, but instead depicts things being planned and then created, just as Abraham does. While Joseph Fielding Smith thought that the scriptures did not have an account of the spiritual creation he was wrong. As was Eric Skousen in his book “Earth in the Beginning” were he comes up with the ingenious (I’m not being sarcastic here) idea that the all these different accounts refer to at least 3 separate processes of creation. His attempt especially was derived from the false notion that the scriptures are perfect or at least were in their original penning. When the evolution of Joseph’s doctrine is taken into account it becomes quite clear what he intended to mean in his PofGP writings.

  125. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    Aaron in 3, weren’t you supposed to be Prudence in that comment?

  126. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    I second Brooke’s recommendation of “Finding Darwin’s God” in #4. I have read it and it is a very good outline of what is and is not open as possibilities for reconciling God with evolution. While I find his own theory of reconciliation less than convincing, his critiques of creationist “reconciliations” are devestating and right on the mark. I wrote quite a few posts in response to this book:

    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/05/mormons-evolution-young-earth.html
    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/05/god-as-magician-in-evolution.html
    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/06/god-as-mechanic-in-evolution.html
    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/06/evolution-gods-of-disbelief.html
    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/06/evolution-anthropic-principle.html
    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/06/quantum-mechanics-and-evolution.html
    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/06/evolutionary-theodicies.html
    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/06/did-god-or-evolution-create-us.html

  127. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    Tim in 9,

    There doesn’t have to be a clear cut off point between allegorical and literal. The story or stories could have originally been allegorical but were later taken to be literal by following generations, thus the whole of Genesis was written as if it was all literal. Of course this isn’t all that “faith promoting” such disregard for scriptural authority, but believe me, on this matter scriptural authority must give a little if any progress is to be made at all. Gary can quote authoritative statements til the cows come home without proving anything other than that more than a few church leaders have made a few “official” statements which have been flat out wrong.

  128. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    CEF,

    I’m am totally confused as to why there has to have existed a man before which nothing died in order to prove that I will definitely die and that I have sinned and that I need redemption from these things. Who cares if there was death before the fall. The only reason people are so convinced that Christ can’t save us unless there was NDBF is because some many people have repeated it so many times. NDBF is wrong, let’s all come to grips with that.

  129. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    Wade in 17,

    Saving truth? Are you even Mormon? I thought that for a fulness of salvation in Mormonism one needed to learn ALL truths, thus there is no such thing as a truth which is not a saving truth in the Mormon context.

    Besides, if one wants to think that its more “righteous” to ignore well established ideas out of mere prejudice and/or ignorance then that is fine, but don’t expect other to think that so righteous as well. I simply don’t see how sticking one’s head in the sand is what God wants.

  130. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    Wade in 21:

    “Also, darwinian evolutionists run into quite a problem when trying to reconcile the second law of thermodynamics – i.e. entropy – with their little idea.”

    Don’t expect to throw around naive statements like this without being laughed to scorn by those who have actually read into the matter.

  131. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    Sonielem in 23:

    Don’t take this the wrong way for I don’t think that your comment was a bad one at all, but here I simply must take issue:

    “the fact that the creation stories we have seem to us unclear and confusing is likely evidence that our thinking is way off track.”

    So when scriptures seems vague, confusing and even contradictory to both objective evidence as well as themselves it is a sign that WE the readers are wrong? C’mon.

  132. Jeffrey Giliam on January 22, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    There Geoff, I hope that I could at least help get you closer to your goal. I personally think that people are simply too tired ot the whole evolution thing to comment all that much any more. I think that I might present a basic summary of what kind of Adam is acceptable in both Mormon terms and evolution at the next Sunstone West symposium. I’m just a little tired of hearing the same barren theories being presented over and over again without any progress at all on the subject.

  133. Otto on January 22, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Jeffrey in #121: Yes, a complete mental flub on my part. It was B.H. Roberts v. Joseph Fielding Smith. I inadvertently switched one favorite apostle for another.

  134. Otto on January 23, 2006 at 12:19 am

    Thanks for the last several comments. This thread was trailing off, but the recent contributions are very helpful.

  135. Rob on January 23, 2006 at 12:37 am

    Clinton (#121)
    Thanks for the post. I think you are right, and most non-biologists may have no idea just how powerfully evolutionary principles have been established in modern science. You simply can’t do biology without evolution, and you really can’t find any real evidence against it. Every time you turn around, there it is, in all its glory!

  136. Jeffrey Giliam on January 23, 2006 at 1:33 am

    Otto,

    Just so you know that correction came from Clinton not me.

  137. Geoff J on January 23, 2006 at 11:16 am

    Jeffrey: I’m just a little tired of hearing the same barren theories being presented over and over again without any progress at all on the subject.

    I hear ya. The problem is that you have moved well past the rudimentary arguments and want to talk about more nuanced things. But most people aren’t there and blogs tend to pull toward the majority in discussions. That may be the downfall of many of us permabloggers. We get tired of the basics and we’ll disconnect too far from potential commenters… We shall see.

  138. C Jones on January 23, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    Some of us really are late to the party on a lot of stuff that gets discussed. I hope that won’t discourage those of you who have given these issues more thought. I know I for one ask a lot of dumb questions and make uninformed comments, but I appreciate the patience of those of you who are further ahead. I hope you look at it as service- I think it is.

  139. Jeffrey Giliam on January 23, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    CJ,

    By all means ask the questions whether they are dumb or not just so long as they be sincere. Its when people attempt to say things like “the 2nd law of thermodynamics is against evolution there for the whole problem is solved” or “the earth was created out of fragments from other world so again the whole problem is solved” that I get annoyed. The problems are far more serious than these comments even hint at. The main issues are these:

    There has been death in the world for millions of years.
    Man has been around for hundreds of thousands of years.
    At no time was there ever 1 man and 1 woman.
    Examples of disteleology are many and wide spread, even in humans which makes one wonder why or if God would have “created” us this way.
    If things could have been created without the help of a God what reasons (rather than motives) do we have to believe in one?
    If religion has been so wrong on these issues which are verifiable, why should we believe its claims which are not verifiable?
    How can the randomness and utter contingency of evolution, not to mention the non-essential difference which there always was between man and hominid, be harmonized with the notion of a pre-existent spirit creation?
    How can we find some version of the Garden of Eden which will be at all plausible in the context of evolution?
    How can we say that we were “created” in Gods image given the randomness and contigency of evolution?
    Given that we have evolved tendencies toward a belief in supernatural entities, might our religious beliefs be nothing more than expressions of this predisposition and nothing more?

    Of course none of these points “proves” that there is no God or that religion is bunk, but the issues raised are quite cutting nonetheless and really need some serious attention. But instead people keep putting forth theories which simply don’t touch most if any of these problems at all.

  140. Geoff J on January 23, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    Jeffrey,

    You bring up the problem some religionists have with some evolutionists — that some evolutionists think the existence of evolution somehow brings the existence of God into question. But for me that is not an issue because I know God exists (see my post here from yesterday). Therefore the issue is one of reconciling evidence/facts. Evolution seems to be a fact. The existence of a communicative God is a fact in my life. Then how do these two meet in the middle? (This, I assume, is one of the purposes of your Mormons and Evolution site with the
    others guys.)

  141. Clinton on January 23, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    137 Geoff J

    I agree. I also get tired of the common Mormon discourse on this subject as well. Because of this I have a habit of stearing my scriptural studies towards Jewish Midrash on the sujects contained in Genesis. Unlike the Mormons, who have only had ~200 years to write midrash on the scriptures in order to reconcile the problems, the Jews have been at it for >2000 years. They answered in depth the questions we ask about both the Creation and the Adam and Eve story generations ago. Alas understanding their answers requires a framework that would require 5-6 Sunday school lessons to explain. In addition most members would have a hard time believing the framework or the answers because they aren’t coming from Joseph Fielding Smith nor the correlation committee. So I don’t really expect the answers to these complicated questions to ever be answered in Sunday School. Unless of course I read midrash during the lesson :-) Oh well the Sod meaning will remain a secret to the uninitiated. Perhaps that is best.

    Clinton

  142. Jeffrey Giliam on January 23, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    Geoff,

    Your point was exactly the one I was trying to make at the end of my comment. One can believe in God and evolution with some important qualifications. (1) The argument from design doesn’t really work anymore, not by a long shot. (2) Only certain versions of God can be believed in now, for instance the God who gave us an accurate account of creation in Genesis simply doesn’t exist, nor does the one who created species independent of one another or only a mere 6,000 years ago.

    Of course you believe because of personal experience and aren’t entirely commited to a literal reading of Genesis and other details regarding creation so you seem to be tentatively okay.

  143. Clinton on January 23, 2006 at 5:01 pm

    Jeffrey (139)

    Great list! You are so correct that “the problems are far more serious” than most people understand. I also get annoyed when people think that appeals to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics or the Composite Earth Theory solve the problem you pose. Such delusional explanation don’t even have the intellectual strength to “cut the mustard.” As we all grow into faithful saints (allusion to Fowler’s “Stages of Faith”) we all must truely face and resolve these questions. Sadly enough, the faith of many is not strong enough to do battle with these questioning opponents. I would rather they go and do some pushups and prepare for the fight in order to get their courage up so they don’t run away after the first punch, which will knock them flat on their backs no matter how many situps they have done.

    Clinton

  144. C Jones on January 23, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    I think that the Mormon position of “everything that is true is ultimately a part of the gospel” gives us a lot of wiggle room to explore the scientific questions. We don’t need to be afraid of truth wherever we find it, but it does take a certain degree of courage to ask the questions : )
    But this is the question that I find particularly interesting:

    “Given that we have evolved tendencies toward a belief in supernatural entities, might our religious beliefs be nothing more than expressions of this predisposition and nothing more?”

    The desire to believe seems to be universal- in every place and in every time. I don’t think that evolution has an adequate explaination for this. Our own senses and feelings tell us that there is something more. Miracles happen, people are healed, we see things, we feel things. Revelatory experiences, dreams, scriptures, prophets and even the existence of evil point us to a belief in God.

    Jeffrey is right when he says that religion hasn’t been very helpful in answering the questions he lists. But if I really want an answer to a question like- Will I really live again after I die – only faith in God and seeking revelation offers any hope of an answer.

  145. Rob on January 23, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    Great comments. Keep them coming. Not sure how far we can go towards answering some of the issues in #139, and I there are many more we could add, but glad we’ve moved beyond trying to figure out what species of tree Adam and Eve ate in the garden. Hopefully, we’re asking better questions, and getting some better answers.

  146. Jeffrey Giliam on January 23, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    CJ,

    You say two things with which I am not entirely comfortable:

    (1) “the Mormon position of “everything that is true is ultimately a part of the gospelâ€? gives us a lot of wiggle room”

    (2) “The desire to believe seems to be universal- in every place and in every time. I don’t think that evolution has an adequate explaination for this. Our own senses and feelings tell us that there is something more.”

    There are a couple of ways of reading (1) some more informative and useful than others. The first is that the truths of religion will not be in conflict with the truths of science. This is really only a tautology which means absolutely nothing at all. This can be used by the atheists to say “the vast truths of science are not in conflict with the very few and far-between truths of religion.” This statement simply doesn’t say anything at all in favor or religion or science. I don’t really think that this is what you were claiming though.

    Another reading which one can take from (1) is that the eteranl gospel encompasses all truth. This is hardly a Mormon doctrine and I don’t really see how this helps resolve anything at all. Suppose that it is true that the opening chapters are wrong on all accounts, evolution is totally true and additionally that God doesn’t exist and/or didn’t create us at all. Now if these were truths, we could just as easily say that they are part of the gospel without really being wrong. I really don’t see how this reading gives any wiggle room at all. Unfortunately, I do think that this is how you meant it.

    A third reading of (1) could be that “all truths have eternal significance and therefore should be learned.” This is a relatively exclusive Mormon doctrine which actually speak against most Mormons’ take on evolution. Many will simply say “we simply don’t know” or “we’ll find out eventually” and they leave it at that. These statements go directly contrary to the reading in question and really leaves such interpretations of the evolution debate condemned in a Mormon context. I don’t think this reading is what you had in mind, but it is a good one with which I agree, but few others really will.

    Regarding (2) which I quoted in the beginning, I really think that you are not giving modern cognitive science their full due. Of course there are some problems, but the idea that we have evolved certain psychological features which predispose people toward supernatural beliefs (especially in a pre-modern context) is actually far more established than you seem to recognize. On this note I would recommend the books “In Gods We Trust” by Scott Atran and “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer as starting points into this very rich subject.

    This field says, in effect, that of course our senses and feelings tell us that there is something more. That is the point. Even if there was nothing more, we still would sense and feel that way. Therefoe the fact that we sense and feel that way cannot be used to establish too much about the existence or nature of a supernatural realm. We are predisposed to label events of which we do not understand the cause as evidence for supernatural agents.

    I would also be very curious as to how the existence of evil, by far the strongest evidence AGAINST God’s existence, is somehow evidence for it. That really is a bold claim which I would submit needs a drastic revision. It should also be noted that science has just as legitimate an answer to the question of life after death as does religion, though it is definitely less desirable. Have you ever seen anybody live again after they die, and if so in what form? Do we have any reason (as opposed to motive) to believe that we will live again after death? If not, why should we ever believe it? It’s true that only faith in God and seeking revelation can give us any hope of an answer that we want, that doesn’t mean that it is the only answer which we can get or even trust.

  147. C Jones on January 23, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    Well Jeffrey, I can’t say I didn’t ask for that!
    I’m not prepared right now to respond to most of what you say, but thank you for what you do so well- give some idea of what direction to go here, what kind of concepts it is useful to think about.

    I am aware that geneticists have found what they say is a gene responsible for what we experience as spiritual affinity, but that doesn’t explain why. We can always just say that God made us that way.

    And, I don’t think science has an answer at all about what happens after death, other than to say no one knows. But you are right about my motives in asking that question. I know what I want the answer to be.

  148. Jeffrey Giliam on January 23, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    CJ,

    “I am aware that geneticists have found what they say is a gene responsible for what we experience as spiritual affinity, but that doesn’t explain why. We can always just say that God made us that way.”

    You are partially right. First off, I personally don’t put much stock in the idea of a “God gene.” I think that whole idea is misguided by the wrong questions altogether. I think that the whole idea that the ‘god concept’ or religion is itself an adaptation is completely wrong. Here are some quotes from Boyer:

    “Religious concepts are probably influenced by the way the brain’s inference systems produce explanations without our being aware of it…
    Our emotional programs are an aspect of our evolutionary heritage, which may explain how they affect religious concepts…
    Belief is not just passive acceptance of what other say. People relax their standards because some thoughts become plausible, not the other way around. We should understand what makes human minds so selective in what supernatural claims they find plausible.”

    In other words, we shouldn’t expect to find adaptations FOR religion or gods, but instead adaptations which would instead guide our beliefs about reality toward religion and gods. It would be these guiding prinicples which would be the adaptations, not the beliefs which happen to result from them.

    That said the whole question of WHY we have the innate TENDENCY toward supernatural explanations is very different. Its true that we could say that God intended for us to be geared that way so that more people would believe in him or we could say that we created God ourselves and that’s that, or we could also say that we evolved that way without any teleological purpose whatsoever, but God existed nonetheless.

    Personally, I think that the first option isn’t very good for if God designed us to believe in Him then why didn’t He design us to believe in the correct version of Him instead of being predisposed to believe in all sort of supernatural agents of all kinds? Why didn’t he fix other things which are wrong with our psychology? It just doesn’t seem to work. I think that any teleological explanation simply isn’t going work very well with the question as phrased by Boyer and Atran. Of course the third option still allows for God’s existence, but I think that the whole question of “Why?” is entirely misplaced in this context.

    That is the biggest misunderstanding of evolutionary principles which lay-persons simply don’t get, and which they also tend to find most offensive. The entire concept of goal or purpose makes no sense whatsoever in evolutionary explanations. We don’t ask “why do we have spiritual affinities?”, but instead ask “what caused our affinities to be spiritual as we now define them?” This is what the cog-sci explanation of religious beliefs is all about.

    I also think that the answer about life after death by science is stronger than a simply “no one knows.” Their answer would be better put: “we have no reason to think that there is anything after death.” It’s true, to use Bertrand Russell’s famous example, that no one knows whether there is a teapot in space orbiting the sun between earth and mars, but to leave the matter at that would simply be weak-willed. It’s actually the case that we have no reason whatsoever to believe that there is a teapot orbiting the sun between earth and mars, therefore we don’t believe it.

    The only difference between the teapot and life after death, according to Russell, is that we want to believe in life after death really bad while we simply don’t care about the tea pot. But simply wanting doesn’t make anything more probable. If anything it makes a popular acceptance of something more suspect.

  149. BLaine Heggie on January 23, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    2 CREATIONS – As you well know, the Moses account is the Inspired Verson’s account of Genesis. Unavoidably, there are elements from Genesis that carried over into Moses. You mention the 2 creations. Whether they are a spiritual and a physical creation or not, I do not know. In Genesis, the first creation was written by the Elohist scribe. An examination of the Masoretic text (Hebrew) shows that the being involved in this creation is called Elohim. The second creation was written by the Jehovist scribe. Again reviewing the Masoretic text you will find that the being involved was Jehovah. This may or not have any great impact on LDS doctrine. However it does reveal the “hic-up” between the 2 accounts. They were not written by the same scribe, but were pieced together. They do not flow together as do the books in the Book of Mormon. That is why there may be differences in word usage and emphasis.

    ALLEGORY – Yes, the creation accounts mentiond definitly have allegorical elements, you might search out some explanations givin by Kabbalistic scholars. However, allegorical elements do not undermine the literal events of the creation.

    PREMORTALITY – Again, check the Masoretic text. The introductory verses in Genesis, the “brooding” you mentioned, parallel the premortal council, war, and the subsequent expulsion on Lucifer.

    DEATH BEFORE THE FALL – Was there death before the fall? Were there Pre-Adamites? The scriptures are specific. Adam was the first man. There was no death in the world before the fall.

    Blaine Heggie

  150. Wade on January 24, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    #133:

    B.H. Roberts was never an apostle.

  151. Wade on January 24, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    # 129:

    Saving truth? Are you even Mormon? I thought that for a fulness of salvation in Mormonism one needed to learn ALL truths, thus there is no such thing as a truth which is not a saving truth in the Mormon context.

    Perhaps I should have clarified, yet for some reason I don’t think it would make sense to you? If you’re really interested in my take on the issue of knowledge and “saving truth” you can check out another forum in which I have discussed this in depth.

  152. Rob Osborn on January 25, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    Through my own study over the years the key to evolution and when death occured is Noah!

    Noah?

    Yes Noah. You see the only reason we have evolutionary biology is because we somehow gots to account for all of them funny fossils in the rocks, all of them oil and coal deposits.

    What about all of them dinosaurs then?

    Dinosaurs, well they were around back in old testament times early on, just read Job. And the coal and oil deposits can only form in a massive catastrophic event that buries them alive. There is a flood in recorded history, ask Noah about that one.

    Ask any scientist if it was possible that the whole earth was flooded at the same time and he will tell you absolutely not. The reason why? Because then Noah’s flood is probable. Science of man has no room for Noah… thats religion, not science they say.

    As for the geologic column, they teach it as being billions of years old and then they show through experiment how all of the various layers of the earth came about. This experiment always contains 3 principles- 1. Water covering the sediment. 2. Vigourous shaking or disturbance. 3. Rapid time to settle and form. Ask Noah about that experiment, he saw it first hand.

    The point I am getting at is if the whole fossil beds can be explained by the flood of Noah, then that would explain away the debate over why a great age is needed to explain them. If Noah’s flood was the global event that is indeed described in the scriptures then there would be ample evidence everywhere around us, and that is exactly what you see.

    There always seems to be problems with dinosaurs. Let me sy this, I am sure glad that the rino or the hippo, or the alligator wasn’t killed off in old testament times or they would be millions of years old too and be a big mystery to us today.

    Everyone always judges the bible with their science books, maybe we should contact Noah, or was he just allegory along with his flood?

  153. Geoff J on January 25, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    Wow… I mean seriously — WOW!

    Where were you earlier, Rob Osborn? This theory of yours might have pushed this post to the stated goal of 300+ comments. It’s a humdinger.

  154. Clinton on January 25, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    152 Noah??????
    In the words of Bill Cosby … “Right who is this REALLY …. What’s a Cubit?”
    Have you read any of the creationist literatue on Noah and the Ark? I highly suggest it because it is more humorous than Bill Cosby. Widtsoe and Talmage both wrote about the geologic column and they considered it laid down over millions of years.

  155. Jeffrey Giliam on January 25, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    RO,

    You’re kidding right?

    “You see the only reason we have evolutionary biology is because we somehow gots to account for all of them funny fossils in the rocks, all of them oil and coal deposits.”

    Completely and totally wrong.

    “Dinosaurs, well they were around back in old testament times early on, just read Job.”

    I would love to see the verse that says “dinosaurs” in it. The closest thing I can find in scripture is the little drawing in the 2nd facsimile of Abraham, fig. 16 (turn it upside down).

    “And the coal and oil deposits can only form in a massive catastrophic event that buries them alive.”

    Let’s not forget “…and million of years of time as well.”

    “The reason why? Because then Noah’s flood is probable.”

    Again, absolutely wrong in pretty much every way.

    I could go on, but at this point I honestly think that I have simply fallen into a bit of a prank here. Nobody whose Mormon could actually believe these things.

  156. Jeffrey Giliam on January 25, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    By the way, I just posted a (what I consider to be) brutal attack against the argument from design as used by the intelligent design movement here:

    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2006/01/failure-of-argument-from-design.html

  157. Taylor on January 25, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    blaine heggie- could you please email me at tpetrey AT gmail

  158. C Jones on January 25, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    #146 Jeffrey,
    When I said in #144 that “the Mormon position of “everything that is true is ultimately a part of the gospelâ€? gives us a lot of wiggle room to explore the scientific questionsâ€? , I meant it (unless I am misunderstanding BY) in the same way that Brigham Young says, “Our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular. ” And ,”If we understood the process of creation there would be no mystery about it, it would be all reasonable and plain, for there is no mystery except to the ignorant.”
    Isn’t Brigham Young saying that Mormonism isn’t locked into a strict and literal understanding of the creation story as related in Genesis (and for LDS, even in Moses) in the same way that some other Christian religions are?

    And on another topic, if I am not happy with the teapot answer to my life after death question, and “what caused our affinities to be spiritual as we now define them?â€? doesn’t go nearly far enough to explain real experiences that I have had-well, life is short- I don’t know that I will live long enough for science to come up with a provable explanation for a revelatory experience. If I still want an answer, I have to turn from the scientific to the religious worldview. Some call that irrational, and some call it faith. I have to build on assumptions that can’t be proved because of the personal experiences that are real to me. I can’t just chalk them up to some future scientific explanation.
    And even if this is still all about motive, doesn’t the existence of the Book of Mormon give Mormons at least a little more of a reason?

  159. Tim Jacob on January 25, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    I find it easier to believe that dinosaur fossils were parts from other planets used to make this one, than to believe that they existed at the time of Adam and Eve. I’m not saying I believe either one, I just think one is more plausible than the other.

    Rob, could you cite the scripture in Job that you believe to allude to the existence of dinosaurs? I would find your take interesting. And I agree with Geoff, that was an excellent comment.

    Jeffrey,

    You have asserted here and elsewhere that belief in evolution is somehow necessary for our salvation, and use D&C 131 as your backup. The only knowledge that saves us is Spiritual Knowledge. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is CHARITY, not Knowledge. It is truly what we DO, and not necessarily what we KNOW. Why would Christ call mere fishermen to do his work? If I locked myself in my basement and did nothing but study, all day, every day, for the rest of my life, and did nothing else–my life would be a failure. We are NOTHING without charity.

  160. Jeffrey Giliam on January 26, 2006 at 12:25 am

    “You have asserted here and elsewhere that belief in evolution is somehow necessary for our salvation, and use D&C 131 as your backup. The only knowledge that saves us is Spiritual Knowledge.”

    Actually, I’ve never used any verses to back me up at all. Its a simply matter of logical deduction:

    Full Salvation consists in becoming a god.
    Becoming a god consists in being omniscient.
    Becoming omniscient consists is knowing everything, whether “spiritual” or not.

    Additionally, I have never asserted that believing in evolution is true for full salvation. Instead, I have claimed (following the above logic) that knowing the truth is necessary for full salvation. Of course I also believe that evolution is true, but that was definitely not the point I was trying to make. The point I was trying to make was that we cannot morally avoid the issue by saying “we’ll wait and see”. The issue of evolution carries so much wieght as to how we see the world, not to mention that fact that we’ll have to study and learn the issue eventually, assuming we want full salvation.

  161. Rob Osborn on January 26, 2006 at 1:18 am

    Ya know, the problem is, no one believes in the flood anymore. They might say- ya it was a wave or it was a localized event, or some might even believe it without effecting anything or leaving a trace.

    If you don’t believe the flood was real how can you even begin to believe in the creation and that it was made by God?

    Like I said, everything hinges on if there was a global flood in the history of the bible or not. If there wasn’t a global catastrophe then we can assume that the great destruction we see in every major mountain chain which has been upthrust containing flood sediment rocks happened some time prior to the fall. But if there is such a story in the bible of global destruction by water , volcanoes, and massive upthrusts of mountains and continents dividing, then science would just have to be wrong on that one because they say that surely nothing like that could of happened in the past 4-6 thousand years. I guess though that there are some who would say that Noahs’ flood was local, that the dividing of the earth was political, that the mountains in the Americas that formed at Christ’s death were small and insugnifacant, dinosaurs never physically roamed on the earth with man. etc..and all this because it doesn’t fit in anywhere in the geology and biology testbooks.

    Who ya gonna believe- The bible, or mans science? There is only room for one correct answer.

    The only thing possibly that is proof of things being millions of years old is our own highly acclaimed but untested radiometric dating processes. And yet science says it is absolute fact when they don’t even have a way to go backwards or forwards through time millions of years to test their hypothesis out- it just amazes me!

    Try Job chapters 40-41 for them dino stories.

    It would be my guess that those who are firmly in the evolution camp to account for all of them mysterious fossils cannot possibly believe in a global catastrophic earth destroying flood within the past 4-6 thousand years.

    Try walking into your science class and telling them that you found evidence for a global catastrophic flood a few thousand years ago and they will laugh. But if you walked into that same class and told them you believed the bible to be correct, most of them would agree- what is this a double standard?- we believe in God just as long as he stays out of what has been taught to us out of mans knowledge.

    There it is- Noah and the flood…….or……..evolution and millions of years. You can’t have bolth.

  162. Geoff J on January 26, 2006 at 1:38 am

    Rob,

    Most of us Mormons don’t believe there was a flood that covered the entire earth only a few thousand years ago mostly because… you know… there wasn’t.

    Who ya gonna believe- The bible, or mans science?

    Both — or at least the true parts of both. Brigham Young was much higher on the truths of science than you appear to be, BTW. See some great Brigham quotes here.

  163. Jeffrey Giliam on January 26, 2006 at 1:57 am

    Geoff,

    I’m convinced that Rob is a fictional character invented by you in a desperate attempt to reach that 300 comment mark you set for yourself. A person living in the 21st century, who actually uses the internet can actually think those things.

    “If you don’t believe the flood was real how can you even begin to believe in the creation and that it was made by God? … here it is- Noah and the flood…….or……..evolution and millions of years. You can’t have bolth.”

    Only a cartoon character would reason like this.

  164. Jeffrey Giliam on January 26, 2006 at 2:12 am

    Rob,

    I think that you would get along really well with our good ol’ friend Aaron Cox:

    http://bannerofheaven.weblogs.us/archives/40#more-40

  165. Tim J. on January 26, 2006 at 10:21 am

    “Most of us Mormons don’t believe there was a flood that covered the entire earth only a few thousand years ago mostly because… you know… there wasn’t.”

    I don’t know if I would say_most_. Many view the flood as global because of the symbolism involved. The flood represents the Earth’s baptism by water, and when Christ returns, the Earth shall be baptized with fire.

    I don’t see any reason to believe one way or the other.

  166. Rob Osborn on January 26, 2006 at 11:23 am

    Why is it so hard to believe in biblical events like the global flood? Man that just stumps my brain!

    But then I guess if you accept a global flood then you kinda have to stop believing in all of that evolution stuff- kinda leaves ya out of the mainstream with no worldly security blanket.

    Who here believes the flood of Noah actually covered the entire earth?

  167. Clark on January 26, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    I suspect the majority of Mormons believe in a global flood and simply aren’t aware of the empirical problems with that belief.

  168. Clinton on January 26, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    I don’t believe it.

  169. Tim J. on January 26, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    I have no problem believing in a global flood, and see no reason why it couldn’t happen. I suppose I could be convinced otherwise, but haven’t heard a sound argument against it.

  170. Rob Osborn on January 26, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    That’s the beauty of the flood, there are no problems with it. Once it is understood that the flood waters didn’t have to cover the mountain chains we have today it becomes way more believable. All of our major mountain chains were created after the flood due to the great destruction. For hundereds of years after the flood the earth was still feeling the effects of the flood.

    If you have ever been to the Grand canyon and seen the sediment layers in their perfectly lain nature over hundereds of miles you can only say that all of them layers were put down at the same time. To say that the ground builds on top of itself over millions of years requires that each layer be inundated with a sea and then come out of the sea. The problem here lies in the fact that where do all of the billions and billions of metric tons of new layers keep coming from- and then to keep laying down perfect parallel layers with thousands to millions of years of time inbetween each layer.

    So how does layers upon layers build on top of each other at the Grand Canyon in the common geologic terms- It reqires that each level starting at the bottom was under the sea with sediment coming from nearby mountains being laid down under water, and then the sea disappears or recedes for a long period of time, then the sea comes back and more sediment is laid down from what must be one huge mountain. This process keeps happening for hundereds of millions of years until a river starts cutting it’s way through, this takes another coulple million years and now it appears to us today.

    In our day we have a better solution- it is called flood geology. Flood geology explains how and why sediment layers can be built quickly and rapidly trapping millions of animals in the process which in turn become fossilized over a relatively short period of time. Flood geology also can explain that it does not require millions of years to form coal and oil. They are currently in the lab under natural conditions creating both of these in just days to month periods.

    If any of you have been to the lake Powell and Grand canyon area and looked at the bizarre landscape, ask yourself this- If this is supposedly millions of years old, why does it look like it could of happened yestaerday? That area is relatively new and is explained wonderfully in ether where it explains how precious the Continent of America had become as the flood waters of Noah receded off of the land.

    It is quite interesting that we talk about these pre-human cavelike guys that supposedly came before man and yet science has yet to provide ONE complete or even semi-complete skeletal reamains that coincide with their diagrams and pictures they have made up. There is no such thing, no not one satisfactory piece of evidence and yet they say that there is more than enough evidence now that it is factual- nonsense, don’t believe it! And as far as BYU teaching evolution as fact, they should be ashamed of themselves.

  171. Geoff J on January 26, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    Jeffrey: Only a cartoon character would reason like this.

    I am honestly hoping you are right Jeffrey — I am hoping that Rob O. is actually a character someone invented to yank our chains. I still am supicious, but I am starting to believe that he is real and actually holds these bizarre opinions… (They are so over the top though I have trouble buying it, though.) When I looked up Rob earlier he did use a dynamic IP that was never exactly the same, but I guess I’ll play along for now.

    Tim J. – I know you are real.

    I don’t think there is any empirical evidence to support the idea that the entire earth was covered with water 4000-6000 years ago (“Rob’s” personal theories notwithstanding). There are millions and millions of species of plant and animal life on the earth today (not to mention the immense genetic variation among humans) — please don’t tell me you think it is logical to assume they all sprang from Noah’s boat. Jeffrey is right — that sort of thing takes millions of years to happen (unless one buys the ideaof creatio ex nihilo). Rob’s interpretation of the Noah story falls into the category of what Brigham called “baby stories”. So much so that I am almost embarrassed to even be responding to it at all here.

  172. Geoff J on January 26, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    BTW Tim — I put up a post today that begins to flesh out this Garden of Eden as allegory idea as you requested.

  173. Tim J. on January 26, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Geoff J.,

    I’ve seen Rob comment before a few times, so I’m pretty sure he’s real. Or, maybe we’re the same person! (Ahhhhhhh!)

    I’ll be sure and check out your allegory post when I have a bit more time, then I can more fully dismantle it. :)

  174. Rob Osborn on January 26, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    I just pinched myself…ow….ya I’m real, no pinochio stuff here folks. Baby stories eh?That’s good, I like that, stuff so simple even babies understand, now that’s real godstuff there.

    millions upon millions of species, ya theres another great myth. There definition of species is having 30 different species of milk cows. And let’s not even get into the plants. When God put greenery on the earth he used actual seeds, which as far as my understanding goes, you cannot create a seed in evolution terms from nothing without there first being a plant to produce it.

    I have given my evidence, wheres yours for proving that the global flood never happened?

    Embarrassed? wait until we meet Noah!

  175. Julie M. Smith on January 26, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    “It is quite interesting that we talk about these pre-human cavelike guys that supposedly came before man and yet science has yet to provide ONE complete or even semi-complete skeletal reamains that coincide with their diagrams and pictures they have made up. There is no such thing, no not one satisfactory piece of evidence and yet they say that there is more than enough evidence now that it is factual- nonsense, don’t believe it!”

    One only hopes that you don’t hold the BoM to the same standard.

  176. Rob Osborn on January 27, 2006 at 1:16 am

    I do hold the BoM to the same standard. The difference is that I don’t use the same stadards like those at F.A.R.M.S. uses to provide evidence for the book and it’s past occupants in history (long story….don’t ask).

    I believe there is more than ample evidence for the BoM in the Americas. The problem with the scientific evidence blasting the BoM is that it is the same science that doesn’t believe in Noah and blasts the bible and it’s patriarchs also.

    At least with the BoM, we have witness that swore to God they had seen them. With science there are only hoaxes when it comes to cavemen skulls.

    Comparing standards of judging the BoM and science together are both related to faith though, there are just some things that are hidden from view. The difference is though, if I believe modern theories of our origins from apes then I have to put my trust in a monkey for my father rather than God our eternal Father, remember modern science has no room for God- that’s religion.

    FRom a purely logical point of view, there is more room for evidence that we were divinely created 6000 years ago from a God rather than being evolved over millions of years to become where we are now.

    Julie,

    I sure hope that You don’t see the BoM as lacking evidence for it’s truth and existance.

  177. Jim F. on January 27, 2006 at 1:19 am

    Is there any good reason for those who disagree with Rob Osborn to continue to argue with him–and vice versa? This is an obvious case of a non-conversation on its way nowhere. Why waste the storage space on the server?

  178. Jeffrey Giliam on January 27, 2006 at 1:41 am

    If it’s not Geoff, I’m wondering if it might be Christian again. Compare:

    “I just pinched myself…ow….ya I’m real, no pinochio stuff here folks.” – Rob

    “You can grab your computer screen with both hands. Or even print out this post. And heft the screen or the print out in your hands, tangible proof. For if I did not exist all my posts would have vanished away.” – Aaron Cox

    Coincidence? I think not.

  179. Rob Osborn on January 27, 2006 at 1:53 am

    Ok I get the point. see ya all on another post. bye now

  180. Adam Sandler on February 1, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    Hey! What the heck are all you guys talking about anyway. None of what you’ve said is in the scriptures. It’s all just speculation!!!!

  181. BAH 666 on February 1, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    The way I see it, there’s plenty of evidence of pre-Adamites. And you don’t need scriptural or scientific inference. Look at the worlds population. One quarter of all the humans on this earth are Chinese. And they are definitly NOT decendants of Adam and Eve because they DON’T have a knowledge of good and evil.

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