“As the Gods”: Pre-Sapiens Hominids and God’s Plan

When it comes to human evolution or deep human history, there’s a sort of begrudging acceptance in Church culture of its possibility, or it’s used as some cudgel in a broader debate about biblical errancy or how symbolic Adam and Eve were, but very few have taken it any further and really sat down and thought through its theological implications and extensions on its own terms. 

The fact is that for much if not most of our time on earth we lived alongside, and had children with, entire other species that looked like us and could have also been religious and spoken to God as well. One of the few attempts to really think through the implications of pre-Sapiens hominids is Hugh Nibley’s excellent “Before Adam” (note: saying that I think it’s excellent does not mean that I agree with everything in it), where he points out 

Do not begrudge existence to creatures that looked like men long, long ago, nor deny them a place in God’s affection or even a right to exaltation—for our scriptures allow them such.

Of course, the first question that is typically raised is how these creatures relate to our own existence. At what point did we become “as the Gods”? As Nibley points out, for large swaths of humankind’s existence we only see the most rudimentary tools and very slow technological innovation and dispersion, on the order of thousands of years. He argues that “these are not our people.” While I think they are in the sense that we are related to them, he has a point that they are probably not quite human enough for God to see them as His own species, as children made in His image. 

It isn’t until the Great Leap Forward that we start to see the trappings of culture and modern behavior and, presumably, religious beliefs and concepts like purity, sin, and redemption. If we peg the Great Leap Forward as our “as the Gods” moment that would place some Adam and Eve-like character or scenario, at around 50,000 BC. Or maybe that switchpoint happened with the agricultural revolution, writing, and the first civilizations, which would actually put Adam and Eve in the ballpark of the timeframe suggested by a literal reading of the Old Testament. 

But again, this is all speculative and is going down the rabbit hole I warned against earlier by only considering early hominid importance vis-a-vis our understanding of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. It is likely that our development as God-seeking creatures happened gradually, and I would not be surprised if early hominids had some sort of proto-rituals that God may have recognized and accommodated in some manner or another. Perhaps an early form of cleansing, blessing, or endowment-type rituals that are found across the world. One (somewhat controversial) school of thought in comparative mythology suggests that the commonalities we see across religion and language are due to a diffusion from an earliest Adam and Eve-type ur-culture many thousands of years ago.

While this might seem like some weird deep doctrine hobby horse, the fact is that the gospel according to Homo Erectus applies to most our existence as children of God while on earth. Anatomically modern humans came around about 300,000 years ago. One estimate for mean length of an ancient generation is 27 years. That means we have been around for about 11,000 generations. Neanderthals and Denisovans were around since about 40,000 years ago, or 1,500 generations. As a species we’ve been “Lord over the whole earth” for a small portion of our existence. While deep time is hard to intuitively understand, Richard Dawkins would use a clever thought experiment of envisioning each generation as a page in a book. If each of our ancestors’ lives was written on one page, a thousand page book would be about two inches (per my random online book width calculator). So such an ancestral record during our time as the only hominids on earth would be a book three inches thick. (And, it goes without saying that the existence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be the last handful of pages stuck together at the very end).  

However, our history while sharing the earth with other species that look like us would consist of a series of volumes a foot and a half in width. An existence calling for the protection of Dyeus while hunting now-extinct big game, of living a violent existence before government where the neighboring group leader can simply kill steal your stuff and let your family starve if you lose a street fight, of our ancestors being raped by Neanderthals (or our Neanderthal ancestors being raped by Homo Sapiens), is the rule, not the exception, to our existence. There is a whole universe of experience that has been lost to time but probably involved no less crying out to God during their “nasty, brutish, and short” existences in their own way, even if the Adam and Eve moment or process came with modern behaviors or civilization. And while we don’t have written records, and in some cases the only record for their existence is written in our blood, the spirit of turning the hearts of the children to the fathers and mothers may entail at least acknowledging this universe of experiences. 

34 comments for ““As the Gods”: Pre-Sapiens Hominids and God’s Plan

  1. So many rabbit holes…Which one to go down? For now, I’ll focus on just one. (We’ll see how the discussion goes before I decide whether to go down any others.)

    The dominant narrative in the Church is that the Garden of Eden was idyllic and that it’s been all downhill from there. A well-read orthodox member will tell you that Adam understood the entire plan of salvation, even after the fall, but that that understanding was lost over the succeeding generation and we’ve been struggling to get it back ever since.

    Your much more plausible scenario is consistent with the notion that Adam and Eve (i.e., the most recent couple from whom we are all descended) had only a rudimentary sense of right and wrong and that things have been going uphill (however unevenly) ever since. Everything makes so much more sense when you look at it that way, but Mormons are seriously invested in the orthodox narrative. I suspect that there is a minority of GAs who see things the way you do, but they don’t dare say so out loud. I don’t see anything in what you wrote that might persuade them to do so, and until they do, your scenario is going nowhere.

  2. So if exaltation awaits many early hominids, does that mean that even insurrection-denying Trump supporters can gain exaltation?

  3. I think some of that hinges on what Adam and Eve’s defining characteristics are. Were they the most recent couple we’re all descended from? Or the first couple that had enough cognitive development to meet a certain threshold for humanness (since again, species development is on a continuum for the most part)? Or was he/she the first prophet? The one who kickstarted God’s religious involvement through some Garden-of-Eden event on this side or the other? How symbolic is Adam as a character? From the endowment when the participants take their place, to when Adam/Eve break the third wall and interact with the audience, to the wordplay in Genesis when they switch around from the proper name Adam to the general word for “humankind,” it’s clearly scripturally and temple ceremony-warranted to read a lot of Adam and Eve as an allegorical reference to us, whether it’s so allegorical that an actual person isn’t necessary is another question.

    I’m open to all of these possibilities, and whether Adam and Eve had a very rudimentary sense of right and wrong or a fully-fleshed out atonement theology I guess depends on which one it is.

  4. Old Man, it is obvious that a major branch of the American version of Homo sapiens has experienced a rapid devolution in the past decade. Planet of the Apes, here we come.

  5. As someone who thinks the Adam and Eve story is 100% symbolic, I think attempting to place somewhere on the human timeline is rather absurd and missing the point. I suppose you could read the hunter-gatherer to agriculture transition (which was by no means universal, but certainly happened in Mesopotamia) into the Garden of Eden story. This would place an Adam and Eve event around 12000 years ago (as mentioned in the OP), but then your leaving out the majority of homosapiens who ever lived – let alone early hominids. Personally, I don’t like to place spiritual limitations on non-human species. Heck, my dog seems more spiritually in tuned than I am most of the time. There is evidence that neanderthals buried their dead and were capable of abstract and symbolic thinking. Does this constitute “religion?” Maybe not, but most scholars believe there were necessary precursors. Does this mean that they and earlier hominids intuited a relationship with God, or something outside themselves? I don’t see why not.

  6. I agree with Nibley–that our story here on the earth begins when Adam and Eve appear on the stage. And as such I believe that the garden story is an otherworldly premortal story of the family of Adam and Eve for whom they–though real individuals–serve as archetypes for all men and women respectively.

    In terms of the theology involved, it’s a lot easier (for me) to view the garden and the fallen world as two separate locations in the sacred cosmos. IMO, Adam and Eve experienced a change of venue when they came here–as do all of God’s children.

    And so, according to the record of the mortal Adam we learn that he was taught by angels and received the fulness of the gospel. We also learn from other records that he obtained the fulness of the priesthood. And so even though he may have inherited a very primitive understanding of the world according to the flesh–he was taught from on high with respect to all things pertaining to the Kingdom. And that (IMO) marked the beginning of a new and higher culture (from which humanity has had a bad habit of devolving no matter how often the Lord, in his mercy, reveals it.)

  7. This is something I’ve mused on a lot over the years (though the closest I’ve come to writing about it is https://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php/2021/10/adam-shall-come-to-visit/).

    One rabbit hole to ponder is our relationship to other organisms on earth. The basic idea of evolution is that we have a common ancestor with all other organisms on the planet—chimpanzees, elephants, fish, birds (aka avian dinosaurs), bananas, algae, E. coli, etc. If they are our cousins, so to speak, what does that mean for their afterlife? (Particularly for animals with high intelligence like elephants.)

  8. I’m OK with the idea that evolution may explain how our bodies were created both in the image of God and out of the dust of the earth. I think it’s probably more likely than being molded, golem-like, out of a lump of clay or being transplanted from another world.

    However, we should also remember that the Garden of Eden was part of the earth in a terrestrial state. While Adam and Eve were in a terrestrial state, did the telestial state of earth also exist? I think it’s reasonable to conclude that it did. Now, as we are in the telestial state, can we conclude that the terrestrial state, where the Garden of Eden is located, still exists, as well as the celestial state, where God dwells? Certainly. Just because we aren’t in them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    We’re told that time moves differently in these states, that one day there is as a thousand years here and so forth. We might conclude that the timescale is similarly different between the terrestrial and celestial states. If we were to calculate that out, one celestial day might equal a thousand terrestrial years, and a thousand terrestrial years, or 365,000 terrestrial days would be 365 million telestial years. If you were to take that one celestial day and multiply it by the seven days of creation, you would get 2,555,000,000 telestial years, a figure which Joseph Smith referenced on occasion (Times and Seasons 5:758, for example), regarding the goings forth of Jesus Christ in this system. Perhaps this is how he arrived at that number.

    A “thousand,” of course, may be a figurative number. It was sometimes used anciently to simply mean “very large,” not necessarily an exact figure, (much the same way we might use the word “several” in English to usually mean approximately 4-11 items or so). A little tweaking of the numbers in this case, whether on the side of the scientists or the side of the exegetes, and we could arrive at matching figures for the billions of years calculated as the age of the earth and the age of the universe.

    So how did Adam and Eve get into the Garden of Eden? I don’t know. Perhaps once evolution had perfected the bodies and minds of homo sapiens sufficiently to be in the image of God, a man and a woman were translated, or raised up, as on Jacob’s ladder or Moroni’s conduit. But we don’t have any evidence of an Ascension before the Fall, and we don’t really know how that would work. Perhaps the terrestrial versions of their bodies were created in some other way. They were immortal beings, without blood, after all. The rib story might also come into play here. Having not had much experience with things in a terrestrial order (yet), we can’t say much about how things might operate there. What’s important to know is that they were there and that they fell from that order, which allowed the plan of salvation to be brought to pass, and created the need for a Redeemer, and set the earth on a course for the “seven thousand years of its . . . temporal existence” (Doctrine and Covenants 77:6).

    To sum up, I think it makes sense to think that the celestial, terrestrial and telestial orders coexist simultaneously. And I think this relatively simple idea may provide a solution in reconciling the discoveries of science regarding evolution and deep time with the revealed word of God. After all, truth does not contradict truth, although, as in the story of the blind men and the elephant, the solution regarding how to reconcile different truths may not be immediately apparent.

  9. @Chad: On the other hand re your linked post, I seem to remember BY making some very Garden of Eden-as-allegory statements. Almost new atheist sounding in labelling them fables. I’ll have to find it.

  10. Why hold onto the belief of a literal Adam and Eve or garden of Eden?

    Metaphor and myth make a lot more sense given what we know about the world and the history of human evolution.

  11. If you interacted with a Homo Habilis or Neanderthal without being tipped off as to who they were by their physical appearance, you’d probably think they had some form of intellectual disability. Now, I was taught that people with substantial intellectual disabilities such that they don’t fully understand right and wrong go straight to the Celestial Kingdom. (In writing this I’m realizing I don’t have a source for that more authoritative than my Mom, though that’s pretty authoritative in my book. At any rate the analogy with pre-accountability children is obvious.) If that applies, it suggests early humans might have entered mortality to gain a body and have a learning experience, but not to be tested. If their eternal potential is not the same as ours, that might explain why no testing is needed.

    For what it’s worth, I’m increasingly convinced the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden is a symbolic story/extended parable, originating in the temple, designed to teach us about our choice to leave our Heavenly Father’s presence and come to Earth. As a parable it does its job beautifully; as history it’s unnecessary/redundant and we have to come up with excuses for it. The Garden being a parable does not preclude Adam and Eve being historical figures. Adam being the first prophet (“first one that we know”) may explain why he was the logical person to cast in the role of representative of humanity, just as other church leaders were cast in roles related to their history. It also does not preclude Adam and Eve being our earliest common ancestors or the first humans with the distinct nature we have today. Them having intellectual abilities their contemporaries did not and their descendants then out-competing other early humans would be consistent with what we know of that period.

  12. Let me try this again. There are two things that are important about the story of Adam and Eve:

    1. They fell, and
    2. Because they are our common ancestors, we too are fallen and in need of a savior.

    That’s it. All of the other stuff that seems so important to Jack and Reeder really isn’t. But when I say that that stuff isn’t important, the Jacks and Reeders of the Church hear me saying that #1 and #2 above aren’t important either. But #1 and #2 are fully compatible with the OP’s narrative. So we need a way of talking about evolution that explicitly embraces #1 and #2. And given that we can’t simply erase the Garden of Eden from the scriptures, we need to be explicit that everything except #1 and #2 is “strictly figurative as far as the man and woman are concerned.”

  13. The primary reason why church members have issues with pre-Adam sapiens is because Joseph Feilding Smith struggled to think of the endowment ceremony as symbolic and wanted it to be literal. It’s a tempting stance to take and many have taken it. Without his loud voice about it, I don’t think that it would be an issue.

  14. The core issue here, in my opinion, is that we are asking the Adam and Eve story to do way more than the original author(s) intended. Christians have always done this but Joseph Smith took it to new heights by transporting Adam to Missouri, and making him a key figure in an actual future pre- second coming event that is supposed to happen on land the Church still owns. As others have noted, the Church probably has leaned into a more symbolic interpretation of Adam and Eve in recent years, rather than literal- and yes, it could be both, l suppose. However, I don’t think it’s a controversial statement to point out that most of what Joseph Smith taught depended on a mostly literal interpretation of the Adam and Eve story and the Bible, in general. So from a standard/faithful LDS position, you almost have to reject all the scientific evidence for human evolution or you have to try and stick Adam and Eve somewhere in deep time. And this, to me, is highly problematic from a variety of levels both logically and theologically.

  15. Last Lemming,

    I agree with your points 1 and 2. And just for the record–I have no problem with organic evolution. But I do disagree with the notion that because the creation and garden narratives are figurative that they deserve less attention or are less valuable in some way. Maybe I’m miss understanding you–but (IMO) those stories are the foundation stones upon which the “vision of all” is built. And I don’t think it’s an accident that we have four versions of those narratives in our canon today–including the temple. Think about the rock-solid theological foundation they establish with these specific elements:

    God is the Creator.
    God created all things spiritually before he created them physically.
    We are made in his image and have a divine lineage.
    Women as well as men are made in the image of God and both are coequal with each other.
    There is a paradisiacal order of creation.
    Agency is sacrosanct.
    The adversary is real.
    Becoming like God is the purpose of our creation.
    We fall from God’s presence that we may learn to love him through our own experience.
    A Savior is provided as a means of returning to God’s presence.

    No doubt other precepts could be added to the list. That said, it could be argued that all of these ideas are found scattered throughout the scriptures–and I agree. They don’t have to be conveyed to us by means of an ancient allegory. Even so, I find that there’s something useful in their being organized into a linear narrative. And maybe I’ve just got a goofy way of thinking about reality–but it seems to me that one of the reasons for the way the whole saga is structured is because it bespeaks real times, places, people, and events that are too otherworldly for us to comprehend in straight form. The symbols employed in the various tellings are calculated to get us to think along the right lines and–hopefully–ask the right questions so that we get some understanding of our deep past. It’s my opinion that the Lord is willing to show us as much context as we’re prepared to receive vis-a-vis the great plan of happiness. And the creation and garden narratives are only the beginning of the “vision of all” — the endowment being the complete cosmic vision–though in skeletal form.

  16. Mat: Yes, it is clear that JS saw Adam and Eve as literal figures, and was perhaps more literal about the Garden of Eden than, say, Brigham Young, but the endowment also clearly has Adam-as-a-symbol elements, and again the text has wordplay that suggests that it also was open to a symbolic reading, so while it is true that past leaders were more literalistic in general, it’s a misunderstanding to see symbolism in Genesis as some modern innovation to salvage the story. (And a quick shout out, while JS placed Adam in Missouri with the altar and all that, contrary to popular opinion the placement of the Garden of Eden in Missouri is not actually in the D&C; the wording oddly does not say that but sort of hints at some Adam-to-Missouri connection in the future).

    RLD: To add a vague supporting citation to your vague citation, I fuzzily recall my mission president (and he’s a GA now so by all canons that’s infallible gospel truth ;) saying the same thing about mentally disabled people; that if they were below the age of baptism intellectually than the automatic exaltation condition applies to them, so I do I think that’s a common theological belief and it makes intuitive sense of you accept the under 8 premise to begin with.

  17. I want to second Jack’s point: if the Garden story is a divine allegory meant to teach us about where we came from and why we’re here, that makes it MORE worthy of study and pondering than something that just happened to happen. And we’re more likely to find the right lessons (Jack’s list is a good start).

    @Last Lemming: it takes some work to get from your first point to your second point, especially if you want to preserve the 2nd Article of Faith along the way. But if you assume that Adam and Eve’s decision to eat the fruit and their being cast out of the Garden and entering the World as a result represents the choice we all made to accept Heavenly Father’s plan, leave his presence, and enter mortality, then it’s obvious why “the fall” applies to all of us. That’s certainly not proof the second interpretation is the correct one, but it’s something to consider. (Side note: I don’t think we need to look to Adam and Eve to recognize our fallen state and our need for a Savior. Any honest appraisal of our circumstances and past behavior will convince us we are fallen beings living in a fallen world.)

  18. The “earth children” series of books by Jean M Aul is about the time when both types of people lived on earth together.
    She has the neanderthals as a patriachal society, and the more modern ones as matriachal/equal.

    Recommend them

  19. Any honest appraisal of our circumstances and past behavior will convince us we are fallen beings living in a fallen world.

    I was kind of starting with this and working backwards. We are fallen because we are accountable and still disobey God. I see Adam and Eve as the first of our ancestors to cross the accountability threshold. After crossing it, their first act of disobedience was their fall. Their accountability was largely a function of brain size and that has been passed down to us. The specific acts of disobedience, however, are our own, preserving the 2nd AoF. If you believe (a) in evolution, and (b) that accountability is a real thing (those who don’t tend to be philosophers, not scientists), then you almost have to believe that somewhere along the generations from single-cell organism to one’s self, there had to be one ancestor who crossed that threshold first. That would be Adam (or Eve).

  20. To switch rabbit holes for a minute, I need to take the opportunity to denounce the idea that intellectually disabled people are automatically exalted. Going straight to the CK is one thing, but exaltation is quite another. Going straight to the CK just means they will not suffer for their own sins. But the principle that we will retain in the next life the intelligence we acquired in this one still holds. Nobody acquires instant intelligence just by dying.

    Back in the 70s, my mom taught a special-needs Sunday School class in her stake. More than one parent declined to send their child on the grounds that the child did not need to learn the gospel. And if you believe that your child is automatically exalted, why not adopt that attitude? Teaching the gospel to intellectually disabled people is hard (I have first hand experience) and I can understand why somebody would punt if they thought it unnecessary. But it does a huge disservice to those who then are not taught. There is stuff that they can learn, and if they need to learn it to be exalted, it is better learn sooner than later. They will have a lot of catching up to do, so we should be giving them every advantage now, not providing excuses for neglecting them (and the idea of automatic exaltation is precisely that excuse).

    How this applies to cave men, I have no idea.

  21. These verses from Section 93 are interesting:

    38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.

    39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.

    40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

    And then the Lord goes on to chastise the brethren for not teaching their children properly.

    I could be wrong, but these verses seem to suggest that we fall from a state of innocence before coming here–and upon entering this world we become innocent again. And if so, our being here is a result of our having fallen in the first instance. And then we become incumbered with sin and transgression because of our exposure to the evils of this fallen sphere.

    I don’t know if I’ve got right–or even if I understand everything that’s implied in those verses. But it seems pretty clear that Adam’s fall–our fall–happened elsewhere–and that we are here as a result of it.

    That said, I’m certainly open to the idea that the bodies of earthly hominids had developed to a degree, or within a certain tolerance, that was optimal for the children of Adam and Eve to inhabit and begin their sojourn on the earth.

  22. Stephen C, I’m not sure where you got in my comments that I think reading symbolism into Genesis is a modern innovation. In fact, I think the opposite is true. Clearly, symbolism is embedded within the text as you pointed out, and as early as the 1st century, Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria was taking an allegorical approach to the Bible. And of course, from a Jewish perspective, early Christians (including the writers of the NT), read Christ back into the Hebrew Bible, including the Adam and Eve story (calling it the “Fall” as far as I know is strictly a Christian thing). LDS temple theology is just one more symbolic interpretation. To be clear, I think an allegorical interpretation of Genesis is the only plausible option. The only thing that worries me is when we fail to see that we are bringing too many of our own worldviews and theological priorities to bear on a text instead of allowing it to speak for itself.
    Quickly, on JS and Adam: I hope I was clear in my comment that JS never explicitly stated that the garden of Eden was in Missouri. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. That’s why I used the term “transported.” Not sure he would have conceived of Adam arriving in ancient Missouri. Perhaps some kind of a portal? ;)

  23. Stephen, one of BY’s statements that comes to mind is that “Moses made the Bible to say . . . [that Adam’s] wife was taken out of his side; was made of one of his ribs. I do not know anything to the contrary of my ribs being equal on both sides. The Lord knows if I lost a rib for each wife I have, I should have had none left long ago.” And another is: “As for the Lord taking a rib out of Adam’s side to make a woman of, He took one out of my side just as much. ‘But Brother Brigham, would you make it appear that Moses did not tell the truth?’ No, not a particle more than I would that your mother did not tell you that little Billy came from a hollow toad stool.”

    As far as taking an allegorical approach while still maintaining that the fall is a reality, I’ve liked some of Terryl Givens’ writings about how the natural/fallen human nature is the result of survival instincts created through evolution and that we have to bring those instincts into subjection as part of our efforts to learn how to control a physical body during mortal life.

  24. I can’t quite find the BY quote I’m looking for, but here’s one like unto it: “As for the Bible account of the creation we may say that the Lord gave it to Moses, or rather Moses obtained the history and traditions of the fathers, and from these picked out what he considered necessary, and that account has been handed down from age to age, and we have got it, no matter whether it is correct or not, and whether the Lord found the earth empty and void, whether he made it out of nothing or out of the rude elements; or whether he made it in six days or in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. 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.”

  25. A rabbis would tell you that “rib” and “side” are essentially the same word in Hebrew–and that the rib in the garden story is really a “side” of Adam so to speak. And if you keep that in mind when considering my wonky view that Adam represents all of humanity–then what we get is a rather straightforward event.

    When Adam is “alone” he represents all of us as being children–babes if you will–under one archetypal head. There is no differentiation between us with respect to the sexes–though, my guess is that we certainly had the potential to grow into full-fledged men and women. It was more a matter of comprehension. Like babes, we were simply unaware of those elements of our respective natures.

    At a certain point in our progression we–Adam–falls asleep which symbolizes the end of an existence of sorts–or at least the end of a phase of an existence. (Some of have interpreted his sleep to be a kind of revelation–which might be the case.) At any rate, when he’s “asleep” a division occurs in the “macro” Adam — for whom he stands as an archetype — not the individual Adam. In other words, the macro Eve is separated out from the macro Adam and placed under her own archetypal head. Simply put: the girls are separated from the boys.

    When Adam awakes — which symbolizes the beginning of a new phase or existence — he comprehends Eve for who and what she really is: the mother of all living. And from then on the two are keenly aware of their differences and who and what they are in relation to each other.

    Maybe a little simplistic–and certainly lacking in the description of whatever heavenly mechanics are involved. But there you have it.

  26. So, wait. I thought it was church doctrine that deity sent down a monster-size space ship from planet Hie-to-Kolob, dropped off tons of cave men and dinosaur bones around 3,000 B.C. (since the earth is only 6k), and picked up the the City of Enoch for the return trip? I never get anything right.

  27. I guess if falls to me to be the Linnaean Police.

    The name is Homo sapiens or H. sapiens [with italics or underlining, but I don’t think you can do that here]. Thank you Bert for being the only one to get it right.

    The name is not sapiens or Sapiens or Homo Sapiens or homo sapiens or homosapiens or Homosapiens or anything else that isn’t Homo sapiens or H. sapiens.

    And for goodness sake, don’t anyone drop the second “s,” as I often see. None of us is a “Homo sapien.” That’s just wrong. The s isn’t there to make it plural; it’s just a word that ends in s. Just like “bus” ends with s and is not the plural of “bu.”

    Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

  28. I am not a fallen person in a fallen world kind of person.

    More a “Adam fell that man might be, and man is that he might have JOY” believer.

  29. My mission president was a professor of anthropology and when Elder L. Tom Perry called him to serve, he replied that he not only believed in the Theory of Evolution, but that he taught a class on it each semester. “That’s not a problem, Brother.” said Perry. “There is plenty of healthy disagreement about all that even among the Twelve.”

    So I asked my mission president how he thought Adam and Eve went down. His thought was like baking bread in the oven, God kept peeking in on the evolving Homo Sapien. “Not yet. Not ready yet.” And finally, when the dough had become a perfect loaf he “pulled it out of the oven” and had bodies worthy of housing spirit children.

    This implies that for a while Adam and his family co-existed with other beings not quite ready to be part of the Family of Man, or the “Sons of God,” as they are referred to in Genesis 6:2. In fact, in the first few verses of Genesis 6 we see the intermarriage of the Sons of God with the daughters of mere men, and even giants. Eventually, all hominids on the planet would trace their lineage to Adam and Eve, however.

  30. RLD,

    Thanks for the plug. I’ve never been able to get away from the idea that there’s more to those narratives than meet the eye. I even find myself disagreeing with the likes of Blake Ostler — who’s my favorite theologian — who believes the garden story has mostly to do with who and what we are in the present.

    Mike W,

    I like your bread baking analogy. I can’t say that I know precisely how things played out–but that analogy seems to be the most straightforward way of thinking about the transition. Plus, I like how it keeps the garden and the fallen world as two separate venues for Adam and Eve.

    Of course that means I’m suggesting that Adam and Eve — the individuals — came into this world just like the rest of us. They were spiritual beings–just like us–who inhabited mortal bodies–being born of mortal women. And that means I’ve got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do about the deep past–which I won’t do here–except to say that I believe (at this point in my ruminations) that the account of Adam’s creation is an analogical representation of the organization of his family.

  31. Gaaaah!!

    It’s Homo sapiens!

    Homo sapiens!

    Homo sapiens!

    Homo sapiens!

    Two words. Capital H. Lowercase s.

    I guess I could see mangling the name of an earthworm or something, but it’s our own dad-blamed species!

    Homo sapiens is the name of the human species. “Homo Sapien” is the name of nothing. “Sapien” is not part of any scientific name. It’s not even a word in Latin. The Latin adjective is “sapiens” with an S at both ends. It might be a clue that the spellchecker doesn’t even recognize it. If your name is Mike W, then “mik w” is wrong. “mik w” might be someone else, but it’s not Mike W.

    Why is this so hard?

    You should have come to my TED talk. You and the Greyhound bu you rode in on.


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