Wheat & Tares welcomes guest poster Bill Reel: Host of “Mormon Discussion Podcast”. His Podcast serves to help those reconstructing their faith within Mormonism to do so “Leading with Faith” rather than leaving the Church.
In the Church there is an underlying tension that few members are aware of. The reconciling of a Literal Fall in a Literal Eden with what we know from Science about Evolution and the age of the earth.
Elder Holland recently stated “there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.”
He seems to impose a literal reading that there was a garden in Missouri where a literal fall took place.
This seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom regarding our earths history, prior species of humanoids, and the age of the earth.
I am not saying impossible but rather my brain searches for another way to put all this together.
So lets step back and look at all the possibilities.
#1.) LDS Leaders have given us way more room to not take this story literally than we think. For example
President Kimball stated – “”And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them. [The story of the rib, of course, is figurative.]”
President Packer has stated “What is said in the revelations about the Creation, though brief, is repeated in Genesis, in the Book of Mormon, in Moses, in Abraham, and in the endowment. We are told it is figurative insofar as the man and the woman are concerned. – The Law and the Light,” Book of Mormon Symposium, BYU, 30 October 1988
Elder McConkie taught “As to the Fall itself we are told that the Lord planted “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden. (Moses 3:9.) To Adam and Eve the command came: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Moses 3:16-17.) 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”
And Elder McConkie again refers to the trees being figurative when he taught “As to the fall, the scriptures set forth that there were in the Garden of Eden two trees. One was the tree of life, which figuratively refers to eternal life; the other was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which figuratively refers to how and why and in what manner mortality and all that appertains to it came into being. Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat,” the Lord told our first parents, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Moses 3:16-17.) (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 85-86)
#2.) Once one allows the rib, the dust, the snake and the trees to be figurative, many will struggle to make much semblance of a literal Garden on this earth where a literal fall took place. It seems with no trees, ribs, snake, and dust the entire story must fall apart or perhaps take on a different meaning.
What else could the Story be telling us? I often wonder if God placed many of the stories in Scriptures that while taken literally by his children, actually take on a whole other level of intended meaning. What if the creation story with it’s Garden and Fall were God’s way of dumbing down an important story for his children?
Let’s consider the following intersections between the Garden Story and our Premortal life.
In the Garden Satan is present. In the Pre-mortal life Satan is present.
In the Garden Satan tries to convince God’s Children to follow him. He does the Same in the Pre-mortal life
In the Garden there is no death before the fall. In the pre-mortal life there was no death before our coming to earth.
In the garden Adam and Eve did not fully comprehend good and evil. Without bodies and a fallen nature in the Pre-mortal life, we can not fully understand good and evil
In the Garden Satan was cast out. In the Pre-mortal life Satan was Cast out.
In the garden Adam and Eve had to choose to partake of the fruit to experience the change. In the Pre-mortal life we each had to choose to experience this mortal life
In the garden was a fall and we were changed because of that fall. We “fell” from heaven to earth and were changed because of that transition.
In the Garden God Clothed us after the fall. When we left the pre-mortal life we were clothed with a body.
Both before and after the fall in the Garden Messengers from the father teach us. The same happened in both the Pre-mortal life and here.
There are others but this gets you thinking…. What if the Creation Story with its Garden and Fall was Gods way of telling us about our pre-mortal life?
This view resolves a lot of things but it also poses two problems.
First what it solves. It gives you and me room to welcome science and to not be shaken by issues of how old the Earth is or whether we and monkeys have a common ancestor. It simply does not matter. One allowing more figurativeness is not bound to many of the lines set in the past by leaders who took God’s stories 100% literally all the time. This gives more room to hold faith inspite of new scientific developments. It also calls on us to see that prophets and others are limited in their interpretations at times by the lens in which they see a story.
So you ask, what are the problems. One is that we have theologically staked a claim that Adam and Eve were real people and our first parents on this earth. The second is that Joseph taught that real defined places on earth were the same places where this Adam and Eve resided.
How do I make this work? Simple. I see the Garden and the Fall as both a allegorical story that refers to our premortal life and our fall from there. Yet I also hold that the first two of God’s spirit children placed into humanoid bodies were Adam and Eve, our literal first parents. In regards to the geographic locations, I am perfectly comfortable with God having shown Brother Joseph where these first parents lived and Joseph made a false assumption based on his literal view of the story that God was referring to Eden and just outside the garden when really God had only conveyed that this is where our first two parents resided.
In this perspective Elder Holland would be right that there was a literal Garden and Literal Fall, though we would say both occurred in another sphere and not on this earth. He would also be right when he said there exists a literal Adam and Eve.
– What other connections between the Garden and Pre-mortal life do you see?
– Does this explanation work for you?
– What problems do you see as not resolved?
– What other stories in scripture seem to resemble allegorical ideas?
This is one of my favorite topics. There is much symbolism in the story as you allude to.
What I believe is no one’s concern and I don’t mind if people make fun of me because I hold little respect for science (I am an engineer with lots of science education under my belt yet have seen much error and too much agenda in our “science” community). Since I was not there in the Garden and I have not witnessed evolution (albeit, I have witnessed natural selection which is NOT evolution), I have to take both on faith just as everyone does (although many Mormons swear to the literal Garden and many Evolutionists swear to Evolution – what difference does it make? – oh no, I am beginning to sound like Hillary).
After much thought, pondering, prayer, study, research, reading, etc. I have no problem believing in the literal Garden and being entertained by evolutionary theories. Maybe tomorrow I will flip-flop. On no, I am beginning to sound like Romney.
Read the Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister for a better understanding of all of God’s creations and it might help you reconcile the literal Garden with what science thinks is evolution.
With regards to the endowment, read page 51 of Journal of Discourses to get a better understanding of the symbolism and what is really happening and being taught.
Your symbolism is very interesting. I have a different read on it and can see other symbolisms. As many have said before, what you see is what you are prepared to see.
Oh, did I say I believe in a literal Garden? Yes. In Missouri? Yes. Other beasts on the earth before the Garden? Sure, why not? Genesis does not exclude them. Why don’t we talk about the two creation stores in Genesis, also?
Personally, I think evolutionary theories are lacking and is something I find difficult to believe in until I see a monkey turn into a humanoid. Sorry, another 500 million years ends tomorrow and there should be another species somewhere. Did I say yet that death is proof that there is no evolution? And when did the first cell eat the previous cell? What evolutionary god would create a creature that would eat it’s mother? Survival of the fittest? Yea, right.
What if god plucked Adam and eve out of the population whole and created a small scenario that played out just like the story is told?
I dont think a literal or figurative interpretation threatens the historical account.
What if the definition of “first man” doesnt mean homo-sapien but is a description of the first covenant god made with beings? What if it is a covenant relationship that makes man?
I dont think mormons are creationists and it is silly to confuse the evolution of life over billions of years with 7 literal days. the temple play makes it very clear that its not talking about “single days.” Having prefaced that, the biblical story of creation follows evolution very well. First comes planets then simple animals then more complex animals then human animals then man…Man being a “covenant making being.”
My aunt and uncle served volunteer missions at Adam-Ondi-Ahman for the LDS church.
Will their refund for wasted time be figurative or literal?
Non-refundable because the blessings will be literal and the experience priceless.
Seeing the story of the Fall as representative of our collective decision — and let’s just say that Eve was the first to do so — to leave the safety of premortal life to come to Earth is what makes the most sense to me. That would make Adam and Eve our first parents not in a biological sense — even the church’s official essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon acknowledges that the human race is far older than 6,000 years — but in a spiritual sense of some sort.
I find support for this in the scriptures themselves. Look at the structure of the Book of Moses, for example. Where does the story of Satan becoming the devil come? It comes in chapter 4, _after_ the creation of Adam and Eve and before the Fall. It’s a flashback! This suggests to me that the Fall itself, whatever precisely that may be, happened in the distant premortal past. Making it part of terrestrial history is a literary device, not ever meant to be understood literally.
As to Chino’s rhetorical question, I’ve visited Adam-Ondi-Ahman. It’s a beautiful, serene place that provides its own reward even if the story behind it isn’t to be literally understood. I can’t imagine regretting having the opportunity to serve there.
When we look at the yin and yang of our minds filtering of new information there are two approaches which can be easily understood when people are shown an optical illusion of say the old woman and the young woman. Those who easily see both images are permibable those who cannot lock on and lock out that is they lock on to one idea and lock out the others. This is the secret behind fundamentalist churches better growth and retention rates, they are driven by the closed mindedness lock on and lock out of their membership. This kind of thinking isn’t really interested in facts or worried about inconsistencies but some kind of differentiating doctrine (no matter how unbelievable) is required to create a proprietary product than can be brokered to them and it must be peer reinforced (worshiping together, sharing testimonies etc.). So retention depends strongly on this closed mindedness which is why questioning and open-mindedness is strongly repressed in the LDS church. I suspect Elder Holland and others are thinking more about retention than revealed truth when they speak nonsense.
good post. This is the approach I take as well. The garden is the premarital realm.
Bill, thanks for the quotes about aspects of the Fall as figurative. Why did these general authorities try to distinguish between figurative and literal aspects of the Fall? I think they were searching for plausibility and harmony with science as they understood it, just as we all are. Their queasy feelings about talking snakes and ribs gave them the freedom to throw out the literalness of those specific aspects. But at the same time, at heart, Kimball and McKonckie are deeply scriptural literalists. Literalism is part of the LDS ethos, the spirit of things in the flesh, in the material, a garden you can see and walk on, an original parent you can worship.
Those of us who prefer an allegorical interpretation will always be in a minority, outsiders in the core of orthodox faith. And there will always be a tension between LDS literalism and our respect for science and desire for plausibility.
Personally, I’m happy to throw out literalism, which I see as a distraction from the spiritual essence of the story. How can we see ourselves as if we are Adam and Eve, unless we see them as allegorical figures of our own life? What was our forbidden fruit, when was our garden of childhood innocence, when did we fall into sin, what is our lone and dreary world? We never ask these questions if we see the Garden as a materialistic explanation of the mechanics of the Plan of Salvation.
Back before my fall from the church, a lot of people seemed to like my interpretation of the fall where the story might be figurative, but the actual fall is very real:
I’m sure it doesn’t solve every problem that comes up, but I think it definitely dissolves a lot of the tension that we feel about the fall.
Personally, I think the literal/figurative distinction is itself a relatively late invention (St. Augustine comes to mind) which should probably not be projected back onto ancient scripture. The creation narrative was what constituted a valid, authoritative and morally binding answer to various questions which is what it means to be true.
Prior to the rise of scholars, the accuracy of a story actually had relatively little to do with its truth. Once scholars (especially scientists) began to care about the accuracy of prediction and logical consistency across speakers/authors/readers do we see the rise of the literal/figurative distinction with its corresponding demotion of the latter. (Plato’s ideas about truth obviously played a major role here.) Personally, I think a better distinction would be between information and truth about the world and its history. Evolutionary sciences might give us plenty of information about the earth’s history, but I’m hesitant to equate that information with “truth”.
“LDS Leaders have given us way more room to not take this story literally than we think.”
“LDS leaders,” except not the extremely prominent one who just said in a worldwide meeting that we must take it literally. I’m not feelin’ the room.
Ellen did you read the quotes above in the post along qith the resources at the bottom. You have plenty of room. Some leaders have imposed a literal take and others have suggested highly figurative language. The point here is you have permission to stand on your own two feet and decide for yourself how this all fits best.
For those of us that are no longer literal believers in the Gospel, we live for comments like the second one here from hoggbegone. Comments like these are exactly the fruit of orthodoxy and only until recently have the monotheistic religions had to come to grips with Darwin’s dangerous idea. I’m not sure why, or with what justification the Latter Day Saints can use whilest thinking about Adam and Eve as allegory, as figurative. Is not the doctrine of literal fall, including the first occurance of death not central to the two-fold mission of Christ, namely saving us from both sprititual, and physical death? I don’t think Adam and Eve can be, according to scripture relegated to the “figurative” bin. Everything in the canons point to the need to be saved from the physical death, as well as the death of the soul. When Adam and Eve are allegoriocal, then Christ and his mission are allegorical, which I’m fine with, but I don’t think the rank and file would be. To be honest though, Adam and Eve are ficticious characters, and the more we want to press their literal existence, (best Princess Leah) the more young people will slip through LDS fingers. There is no reconciliation between our church and evolution. Even our best attempts at pushing God to the margins still misses the target and misses it badly. Evolution is one of our strongest theories in a long line of strong theories. It is not going to change. The only thing I see changing is Joseph Fielding Smith’s and McKonkie firm pedagogy yeilding to what the evidence has dragged us all too, and that is we are an evolved bi-pedal hominid descended through eons of time from a very simple RNA molecule, and all indications are that it is very much, “unguided”, at least by the loving God I hear every week in Gosped Doctrines class.
Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.
“Evolution is one of our strongest theories in a long line of strong theories.”
Really? Or is that just what you want to believe? I would consider the gravitational theory and the Theory of Relativity to be much stronger as they are testable and many experiments have sustained those theories. Not so with Evolutionary Theories. The again, I don’t know what your definition of “strongest” is, is.
How about counting the number of times the Atomic Theory has changed as in “It is not going to change.” claim?
There are those that will put their faith in the arm of flesh and those that will put their faith in the arm of God. It’s obvious where you put your faith “which I’m fine with”.
When the Restored Gospel is understood as a whole then it is easy to reconcile all things in their due time. D&C states the creation of the Earth and how it was done will be revealed in the Millennium. I can wait. AoF 13 explains how Church members can enjoy the benefits of Revealed Religion and Science. And the fact that we are a revelatory religion makes flip-flopping part of the game.
Have you not heard of the conflict between omniscience and eternal progression? I think this is a good example of line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept. I have not reconciled the two. In my head I vote for God is NOT omniscient but in my speaking assignments I say He is whatever the General Authorities understand Him to be today. The absolute truth of the matter is it probably depends. The bottom line is we don’t know all things and whatever we say is fact is really hope based on faith.
So for those that feel they have to take sides and must take a position between creationism, or the literalness of the Garden, vs Evolution, you can do as Red Dog does and give up on the Gospel or keep an open mind and trust in the Lord. Whatever decision blesses you the most is that “which I’m fine with”. (hoffbegone is the same as hoggbegone)
Bill Reel, and don’t you realize that for many members just being able to find a few church leaders who espouse a view that’s personally comfortable for them doesn’t resolve the issue when there are just as many prophets, seers and revelators saying the exact opposite is true. Shocking though it may seem, some who believe the church is led by one person who relays his will to his children through prophets actually think there should be some modicum of consistency in the messages received by those prophets.
Hoffbegone, thanks for so subtly pointing out that those who leave the church are closed minded. I’m not sure “I believe whatever my church leaders tell me” fits the classical definition of open mindedness, but if it works for you, great. Just understand that you’re as closed minded to non-correlated explanations as Red Dog may be to religious ones. It’s a matter of priority and perspective.
OP – “Without bodies and a fallen nature in the Pre-mortal life, we can not fully understand good and evil”
I’m not getting this one. It kind of leaves unresolved the whole choosing which side we were going to be on in the pre-existence. If we couldn’t “fully understand good and evil” wouldn’t that mean that no one, not even Satan, would be barred from progressing to mortality? Why punish him for something he couldn’t fully understand?
For the rest, I like to think of the story as literal with guided evolution and genetics thrown in. I also enjoy the “what if” thought exercises of how the world would be different if it had happened differently, like Adam eating the apple first.
“not even Satan, would be barred from progressing to mortality?”
This is one of the reasons I like this topic so much. Maybe I am not a Mormon doctrine guru and maybe I should know this answer but: where does it say in scripture that Satan was barred from progressing to mortality?
Here’s another question: was there death before the 2nd day of creation? This is a trick question.
“Here’s another question: was there death before the 2nd day of creation? This is a trick question.”
Yes and no. If you mean something mortal ceasing to function on this planet, then I’ve no idea, since we’ve no information on the state of the waters on the Earth or where they came from, much less what the effect the introduction of light had on it.
If you’re referring to physical death anywhere in the universe, then obviously yes. There were lots of worlds made before this one, and they would have had to have physical death to work properly.
I believe the death referred to when it says “there was no death in the world” refers to spiritual, not physical death. Saying there was no physical death, to me, is like saying there was only 2 of every species in the garden, not having babies or eating each other, just frolicking.
Having no “spiritual death”, being the separation from God by sin, before eating the fruit of tKoG&E, is easy. Laws had not yet been given, so none could be broken.
For your first question, about Satan being barred from progressing to mortality (the 2nd estate) – see Abraham 3:26-28
The trick in the question was trying to refer to the universe and not to just this world. I can’t imagine dead people from other worlds have waited this long for the Atonement to occur before being able to progress.
Thanks for the Abr 3:26-28 reference. I did a search on “first estate” as perhaps this has broader meaning than just the narrow pre-mortal life prior to this earth. Since you mentioned other worlds, I’ll throw a curve ball: I believe Satan has a resurrected body and I don’t think that belief contradicts the scriptures. It may contradict our understanding or correlation or what Prophets have taught, but then again, as others have mentioned, Prophets are human, too.
In other words, I take the endowment very literally.
We actually know nothing about gravity, other than what is measurable. We understand the effects of gravity, but nothing about the phenomonon itself. We don’t really have a grasp upon understanding the exact nature of wave/particle duality and why the wavefunction of electrons collapse at the first indications of measurement. However quantum mechanics makes predictions so precise that we know that our intuitions about it are correct, even though we really have little understanding or can we put into words (mathematics can explain it with miuch more precision) on how it really works. Same with the atom. Although we understand it much more today, we still measured it and harnessed it back in times when our understanding of it was less of what it is today, and even today, like quantum mechanics, it is little understood really how it functions in the particlle realm. Your comment of “theory has changed” is not accurate. The theory, like all theories are added upon, and what is added must account for what is already known, plus it’s additional contribution. Einsteinian theory was able to explain Newtonian physics, but go beyond where Newtonian physics was falling short. The theory of evolution and its body of evidence is so deep, and so wide, that it would be immoral to deny it. The only people really opposed to it are those with either sinister political agendas, or those with usually orthodox religious views. Evolution makes the same types of predicitions as other theories, with the same amount of scrutiny and peer attempts of falsifiability, with the same rigorous testing standards, and has come out like I said, one of the most sound, secure and strongest theories of any theory out there. I’m sure this will bounce of your rigid armour of religion, but if Bill Reel is honest, he’ll confirm this view. The difference is is how we got here. Bill will argue a theistic evolution approach probably, interjecting God in the gaps where we may not have perfect understanding, or put him at the top like the Deists, that God put the plan into motion, and let it develop from there, but honostly, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in a literal seven day creative period and the sudden appearence of man, or some squishy liiberal interpretation fitting God inside our 21st centrury strain of religion/science, once you are inserting the supernatural it just doesn’t matter, liberal or fundamentalist, it leaves the realms of science and becomes faith assertions, and ya’ll can have to yourselves and assert all day long while the real work gets done. Whether young earth creationist or liberal theistic evolutionist, ya’ll seem to be on the same boat, and that boat is sinking, with the wisest abandoning ship.
Oh and Hoffbegone, here’s a trick question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
(sorry for all the typos, typing from my device)
I’ll answer it like an engineer: depends how small the angels are and how big the pin is.
“Evolution makes the same types of predicitions as other theories, with the same amount of scrutiny and peer attempts of falsifiability, with the same rigorous testing standards, and has come out like I said, one of the most sound, secure and strongest theories of any theory out there.”
Easy to say. Impossible to demonstrate. But I am waiting. Let’s start with an example and please stick to evolution and not genetics and DNA and Natural Selection. No one is denying these things.
I’d like to see it demonstrated where a mutation takes place and causes and organism to change species. And then change into a species that eats it’s ancestor. And then finds a mate with the same mutation so it can mate.
bjornes. I feel completely empowered to pick and choose when I see prophets seers and revelators disagree on issues…. don’t you?
This should demonstrate someone does not know what he/she is talking about when he/she says or implies there are no theories of gravitation. I won’t bother commenting on the rest of his/her error-ridden post.
“In physics, theories of gravitation postulate mechanisms of interaction governing the movements of bodies with mass. There have been numerous theories of gravitation since ancient times.”
Listen, it’s very obvious that you barely have a basic understanding of the theory of “descent with modification”. Evolution is all about random genetic mutations (genes, as in protein coding acids on the DNA helix) riding a backdrop of deep quantum indeterminacy. Most of these mutations are inconsequential (you still have genes for a tail, and for muscles to move that tail), however once in awhile there will be a mutation that will benefit the individual in its respective environment. That is an important concept, “efficient within its environment” because a mutation may produce a change that in one environment may be beneficial, but be selected against (yes, natural selection) in an other, different environment. You see, what you’re missing is that individuals do not evolve, only populations do. If a beneficial mutation occurs not only in one individual, but can be passed along, over and over again, it could lead to a slight change in the population. Darwin demonstrated this nicely with his Galapagos finches and their respective beak size. However it’s the environment that selects. One might think that if a Cheetah were just a little faster and could catch more Tommies, it would have better odds at surviving, however a Cheetah loses much of its catches due to its requirement to rest and recover after the kill. If it had to sit longer on its prey to catch its breath, it may end up losing more prey to the Lions and see a decline in its population. However for the Tommy to be a little faster, it would require a leaner build, and may not survive the harsh weather in its respective environment due to too lean a physique (the co-evolutionary story between Thompson Gazelles and the Cheetah is hugely cool). What you want to see is quick evidence of evolution, evidence you can see. I could direct you to many studies with bacterial colonies that could replicate hundreds of generations in a mere weeks showing huge evolutionary changes of resistance to our anti-biotics, but I’m sure that would just bore you. The fact is that there actually is really never a “species change” in evolution, as species is just a literary tool describing organisms that are evolved away from each other where they are no longer able to interbreed. This helps us in classifying, but doesn’t describe evolution per sey. Think of evolution like you would think of filming (in high speed) a man running across the beach. Examining every frame, you’d find each one is just slightly different than the one before it, but not enough to really notice. As time goes by one notices that there is movement, and alas at the end of the sequence the man has moved a distance across the beach. All fine and good until one considers that one frame of the thousands of pictures of this high speed reel could be the evolutionary equivalent of thousands of years here on earth. We just aren’t around to witness evolution, like we’re not around to see the Grand Canyon deepen. Most people won’t really trip up on evolution per sey, what trips up most people is the inability to grasp deep time. To say “I don’t see evolution therefore it doesn’t happen” is tripping up on the time aspect.
Sorry I’ve been long winded. I don’t write this for you hoggbegone (what happened to hoffbegone?) necessarily, for I’m sure you’re set in your belief. I write this for those others that will read here, all 6 of them. One thing I do want to dispute though is being called closed minded for leaving the faith. Listen, I was raised LDS, served in numerous presidencies before my mission, leadership positions during my mission, and presidencies and teaching position after my mission. I taught so many years either for Elders Quorum or GD class. I was married in the Temple and attended through both pre and post 1990 changes. I am very knowledgeable about our doctrine, our history, and our faith claims. I take special umbrage at people thinking I was “closed minded” when I left the truth claims of the Mormon church. I in fact, made one of the most informed, researched, belabored decisions of my life, and turns out, one of the best decisions, producing some of the most delicious fruit I’ve yet experienced in my lifetime. Evolution is worth the study it deserves. Charles Darwin may be the greatest scientist that has ever lived, for his theory not only changed biology, but was a paradigm shift for all of science. This would be the time hogg to close mouths and open ears, especially in this bounty of knowledge, and our ability to disseminate said knowledge to a bright screen in the comfort of our living spaces.
Oh hoffbegone, let me try and simplify this into bite size morsels. Do you understand the scientific concept of “Theory”? It’s different from our colloquial use of the word theory. In our everyday use of the word it means closer to “hypothesis”. “I have a theory that John wants to date Karen”. In science it is used to define a broad and interdisciplinary body of evidence, observations, measurements and tested work. This work is vast and supported through many differing disciplines. For example; there are many disciplines that support evolution. Geology, paleontology, Archaeology, Molecular biology, Ecology, Genetics, Systematics, all contribute to the theory. The theory of Gravity has many contributors, however to this day, we still don’t know the mechanism behind bodies with mass being attracted together. We don’t understand the physical action of why two bodies are drawn together. The theory is vast, and our understanding is vast, except for the simple question. “How does it work?” Same with Quantum Physics, we can measure and test, and the theory is vast and productive. Yet we don’t understand exactly how it works on its basic level. That’s all. And that’s all I’ll respond to you as well. I feel bad that you’ll put your head in the sand and miss what is truly amazing in the name of faith. Sure, we don’t know much, in fact we are barely scratching the surface. In fact we have just enough knowledge to realize how much we really don’t know. But we know enough to just be in awe, everyday, every morning awe. And people wonder about the harm religion does.
Well, Bill Reel, I’m not a believer, so I can’t speak to how that type of conflict affects me. I think reasonable minds can differ about how that plays in a correlated “true” church. I do think it’s perfectly understandable, though, that some believers are troubled by the lack of consistency among leaders who are meant to be taking their cues from the same single source. That said, it’s not so much that I was saying your position is unreasonable as I was defending the reasonableness of Ellen’s position.
As I mentioned before: hoffbegone is the same as hoggbegone. I am sure you have a theory as to why computers, or auto-fill, or spelling checkers play these tricks.
I have discussed this topic many times and this discussion has really taken a nose dive off the cliff. I asked for a example of an experiment to show that the theory of evolution actually works, and Red Dog wants to talk about the dating patterns of John and Karen. For a theory that is the strongest that man has ever devised, it sure falls flat and sure requires some obtuse and obscure explanations.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Don’t know who said that but it sits in my colleagues cubical. Seems to apply to Red Dog and his evolutionary buddies. Wow, I just did a Google and it appears Einstein said that. And yet when I brought up that the Theory of Relativity could be and should be considered a better candidate and example of a strong theory because of the many experiments and “tests” that have been performed to demonstrate it, Red Dog comes back with particle and stringiness blah-blah-blah (which happens to demonstrate how scientists really DO NOT agree with each other).
If any body wants a definition of open mindedness they should read and memorize the 13th Article of Faith. we beat it into our kids before they are 12. Evidently, Red Dog has thrown it out with the bath water.
Grow up sir and learn what the scientific method is before you continue pushing your fruity delusions. Heard of new math being taught in the schools today? Looks like Red Dog has been taught fuzzy science. You stay on this track of reasoning and before you know it you’ll claim cold fusion is true. BTW, it was the scientific method that was used to disprove that scam (not that it was a real scam, just some premature excitement). The scientific method is being avoided in any discussions of evolution because THERE IS NONE. Just ask Red Dog.
I don’t know where brjones and Ellen are coming from but I guess they have not read the revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith which he, himself, did not understand. The idea that revealed religion is stable is about as Amish as it gets.
Heard a great “Off the Record” piece last night talking about “Stuck in Failure” with regards to government programs. I wonder how many of us are “stuck” and don’t realize it.
Hoffbegone, maybe you should sit the next few plays out. Frankly, you’re beginning to embarrass yourself. I already stated I’m not a believer, so for the life of me I can’t imagine what persuasuve effect you think the words of someone who I don’t consider to be a prophet, to put it charitably, might have on me. You’ve made it clear your opinions on the issue in this post are informed and determined by your faith in the church and its leaders. Perhaps you should just agree to disagree and leave it there. Alternatively, you could continue to have your rear end handed to you by someone who very clearly knows more about the science at issue than you. That’s definitely one way to go.
As to the original OP, I’m not sold on Garden of Eden as metaphor for Premortal Council, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if it turned out to be true. Based on both scriptures and the endowment, I have a very difficult time taking the Creation/Fall story as completely literal. I’m okay with the idea of there having been a real Adam and a real Eve at some point, but I highly doubt the process of becoming mortal was instigated by a real tree and a real piece of fruit. In a related situation, the Tree of Life vision provided metaphorical symbols of one’s journey through mortality (including a tree and fruit). It is inspiring and a wonderful teaching tool, but it was clearly never meant to be taken literally.
As to the evolution/creation debate, I’ve stated before that I feel the need for organized religion to dismiss evolution is ridiculous. Both my husband and I were educated in fields (at BYU, no less) that rely on the principles espoused in the Theory of Evolution. I only had one religion professor tell me that my other professors were evil in teaching evolution. 😉 With my current belief system, I cannot view science as devoid of divine inspiration. The pursuit of truth is what drives us to both religious and scientific discovery. I do not worry about current discrepancies between scientific theory and Mormon theology because both are currently incomplete, and that is fabulous. There will always be more to discover.
Spoken like an educated person. Obviously, I could not and have not said it better.
I take the endowment very literally but you are right about the fruit. That is not the important part.
You are out of your depth in this discussion about evolution. How dare you tell everyone to open their minds and that they know nothing of the scientific method?
Evolution is true. If you want to disregard the mountains of evidence, feel free. But don’t insult those who can connect the obvious dots.
“Religions can put up with all kinds of particular scientific ideas so long as these ideas do not contradict the sense that the whole scheme of things is meaningful. Religions can survive the news that Earth is not the center of our universe, that humans are descended from simian ancestors and even that the universe is fifteen billion years old. What they cannot abide, however, is the conviction that the univers and life are pointless.”
John Haught, “Deeper than Darwin”.
Hey, Mary Ann, I’ve got to ask. If there is divinity inside of science, then why the lag time between some of the most basic scientific stuff that really would have benefited the children of Israel? As in maybe 12 commandments? Commandment 11: Thou shalt boil thy water, and the water of thy beasts, and thy servants. Commandment 12: Thou shalt put thy sacred waste six feet away from thy bare feet, that thou and thine house may be blessed of the Lord, and thy days be long upon the face of the land.
Seems like a lot of misery and suffering could have been avoided if indeed divine intervention included scientific understanding. Seems like that was our excuse for Jesus drinking wine right? Because the water was not up to snuff? C’mon, science will not bend to our Mormon “revealed word”. Unless of course you can somehow tell us how science will validate the Book of Mormon. Will it be forthcoming? As in the fullness of the Gospel forthcoming?
Rude Dog, I don’t have good answers to those questions. The injustices of the world, the sheer unfairness of it all drives many people to atheism, and I don’t blame them.
What I see around me, though, are men and women who are driven to use secular knowledge to create a better world. In my mind, that altruism is more than just an evolutionary device to ensure survival of the community. It’s a natural byproduct when people respond to the light of Christ within themselves. My husband helps children who have health problems deriving from glitches when their bodies were forming. That is injustice at it’s highest, condemning a child to challenges before they are even born. There is no evolutionary advantage to these children surviving. In fact, natural selection says that they should be removed from the gene pool. Yet people, especially in developed countries, are driven to help these kids have a shot at life. They are understood to have value beyond what the laws of nature should theoretically dictate.
I really do believe that the glory of God is intelligence, meaning light and truth. Secular knowledge often enhances my spiritual experiences, and my spiritual experiences often include a feeling that there is just so much more to discover. I don’t expect others to share the same perspective, though, because it’s developed from my life experiences. Everyone has different experiences.
I think you make a good point, Mary Ann. Not everything can be chalked up to evolutionary motivation. I agree that humans do much that may not be seen to advance the survival or advancement of the species. It should be noted, though, that other people around the world, in different traditions, would ascribe those altruistic behaviors to something other than “the light of Christ”. Those who are religious would undoubtedly ascribe them to inspiration from their particular deity of choice, while secularists would point to something nonreligious. The only common thread running through each is the human beings who are feeling and acting on those impulses. So while I’m in agreement that altruism and empathy are things that are inherent to humanity, I would disagree with the characterization that they’re put inside us or triggered by the light of Christ or any other mystical or religious being (or any other external stimulus, frankly). Human beings individually and collectively can be credited with such good works. But as you said, everyone has different experiences that color their beliefs about such things.
Everything comes from evolution. The empathy and compassion of human beings came because we have evolved that way due to natural selection.
While it is true that, as Mary Ann said, the process of natural selection shows no mercy, it is also true that human beings, through natural selection, have evolved to be compassionate towards those with difficulties and struggles of all types.
Yet Mary Ann, you still belong to an organization that has a history of discrimination contributing to the overall summation of human suffering. In this your lifetime, we still discriminate, and contribute to the high suicide rate that plagues our sons and daughters as Utahans because you prescribe to the “we mean well” doctrine. Sorry, but your *edited* squat does not equate with those who have thought it all the way through. No, seriously, keep your path. I will indulge your “spiritual” experience. I think you have it wrong thinking it “your experience” while all of us on the outside have to deal with it externally. Please spare us with your internal “experience”. We’d rather you bless us with your vote, your voice, and your natural experience. But please, not with what you think has been your “supernatural above all others that no other human being beside myself” could experience. The world that needs to progress has little need for that narcissism..unless of course Mary Ann, you really think that you have been revealed to from the very god of heaven, and I have not?
Rude Dog, you misunderstand. I qualify my statements with admission that my opinions have been formed by my personal experiences not out of narcissism. They very well may be incorrect in the big picture. Other people have different experiences which will lead them to different conclusions. I do not consider those conclusions to be invalid, just different from my own.
I use the term “light of Christ” because that is familiar and understandable to me. Other religions use other terms for a similar type of interaction with a universal spiritual force that helps in progress toward a perceived better state of being. Most nonreligious people would limit it to the individual level, that humans have evolved to have a personal conscience (influenced by the mores of their society) that drives them to do good.
You seem to have a bias that anyone who belongs to an organized religion must agree with and participate in the same bigotry and atrocities that members of those religions have committed in the past (justified by the doctrines and policies established by leaders). I have a gay cousin who chose to distance himself from the church because four of his gay Mormon friends committed suicide. I understand that our current and past understanding of doctrine has led to deep intolerance resulting in severe pain. I do not presume to understand why our church clings to gender stereotypes when it has harmed me and others psychologically, and I *do* speak out about that on these and other forums. I don’t think we have a good understanding of gender which is why our current definitions are unsatisfactory. Some of those kids my husband helps have a big fat question mark when it comes to their biological sex. Human bodies can only function properly if all cells are aligned in either an XX or XY pattern. Many children are born with variations in those patterns that wreak havoc on their systems. How do we classify a kid whose body contains a relatively equal amount of XX cells and XY cells? How do we state whether their spirit (according to Mormon theology) is male or female? That is just gray area at the chromosomal level. There is more gray area at the physiological and emotional levels.
Humans are constantly acquiring knowledge at a secular level. Humans are also acquiring knowledge at a religious level. Most people tend to value one type of knowledge over the other. I disagree that members of organized religion must inherently dismiss secular knowledge in favor of religious knowledge. My *opinion* is that all desire for knowledge, especially to better society and human life, is divine. For atheists who don’t believe in divinity, there will obviously be a different opinion.
I have subscribed to this same train of thought for the last few years. The only question I can’t makes sense of is this…
If Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden because of disobedience, were we all disobedient in the premortal realm, causing us to be cast out of heaven? I thought those that followed Satan were those who DIDN’T come to earth to recieve a body and live out their mortal probation. Any thoughts?
Casting out means being tossed out. I don’t see it written anywhere that we were “cast out” of heaven. (Though Satan and his followers were “cast out” and ended up here too, though, as you point out, without bodies. see Revelation 12:7)
Adam, however, was not cast out of heaven, he was “put”, or “placed” in the Garden. (Genesis 2:8)
If you look at conference talks on the subject of how the rest of us got here the verb usually used is “sent”. Basically we were given an opportunity to leave and do something educational and took it. It is rather like the choice my kids made when they chose to leave home and we “sent” them (on an airplane) to enroll at distant colleges and universities. We definitely did not cast them out. And we looked forward to their coming back.
Verbs are fun.
I’m back after taking a rest. Don’t understand why you guys can’t reconcile Natural Selection with a literal Garden of Eden.
Just had a wonderful discussion with an evolutionist trying to give examples of modern speciation. All examples were nothing more than Natural Selection.
All the fossils are evidences of other species that have died off and no longer live on the earth. Does not prove (and is not evidence) one life form evolved into another.
In other words, no such thing as evolution unless you want to say natural selection is evolution.
Must read: “Infinite Atonement” to get a better understanding of God’s creations, covenants, and how and why the Atonement applies and does not apply to certain life forms. This book will also help Carlie get a better understanding of Gospel teachings.
got to fix that autofill field.