Monday Morning Theological Poll: Adamic Evolution Edition

A shorter poll this morning, because I’m not aware of very many options. If there are ones I’ve missed, state them in the comments and I’ll add them as options to the poll.

Please justify your vote in the comments below. Relying on your lizard brain is insufficient reason.


  1. Justify the vote, let’s see…

    We don’t have all the answers from either side. I seem to think there is enough science behind evolution to deem it reliable, yet Adam has to fit in somewhere, somehow, no matter how figurative you take the Bible. I don’t have a better option as of yet, so I would like to think that something different happened with Adam that set him apart from his human-enough parents that evolved from a primordial soup.

  2. So, you voted for the first option?

  3. The wording of “body by evolution, spirit by God” seems to imply that his body was not by God. There should be an option allowing for his body to be both “by evolution” and “by God” (i.e., evolution is according to God’s design).

  4. My wife and I watched a 3-part NOVA series on human evolution yesterday. I find the scientific explanation of our beginnings far more beautiful and amazing than that in the creation accounts.

  5. I pick the first four as they are not theologically or biologically opposed. My theories on the birth and creation of Adam and Eve is a collection of those first answers. We modern humans are a special creation derived from biological evolution. It is like a hybridization of animals, if you will, but with a more Divine hand.

  6. Thanks, Raymond. That option is now provided.

  7. I’d say my answer is a combination of 2, 3, 4, and 6. #2 is accurate, though obviously figurative. #3 is accurate, so long as we recognize that the “perfect body” was his spiritual body; it seems apparent that his physical body was born here. #4 is accurate, so long as we recognize that the man Adam, though God, is Michael and not Elohim. #6 is accurate up to the first “care.” I do care to know, but it doesn’t tremendously matter what the correct answer be. As long as it’s correct, that‘s good enough for me.

  8. Jeff,
    When I’ve heard the “born on another planet” option discussed, I’ve only ever heard it as describing the origin of his physical body. YMMV

  9. Yes, I voted for the first option, sorry I didn’t say that. I know there is much more behind every comment, but I can take it for what it’s worth and know that everyone has a different take on these broad statements.

  10. My working theory is that I’m a hybrid, with a pedigree that includes both God the Father through Adam, who was born to divine parents on this planet, but also includes at least one anonymous neanderthal who left his imprint on my DNA. So I voted for #5 with reservations.

  11. I affirm the line, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” Evolution is one of His ways. “Adam” is our name for a particularly wondrous and mysterious stage in that evolution.

  12. Adam is presented as myth to us in the scriptures and in the temple. Whether he was a real person I can’t say. I don’t think “myth” = “didn’t actually happen” though.

  13. I think, that there must have been a certain point where our human bodies and brains were developed enough to contain a living soul. The first very well could have been an Adam and Eve, or at least, through myth, Adam (mankind) and Eve are the titles given to humans once body and spirit child of God combined.

  14. Possibly myth, possibly real person, possibly myth and real person, but I don’t know and I don’t care.

  15. Assuming that Adam and Eve lived ~6000 years ago, the idea that everyone before them were zombies seems a little far fetched to me.

  16. John C,

    I believe the first place I came into contact with the other planet idea was in Cleon Skousen’s The First Thousand Years. He quotes Brigham Young as saying that Adam came from another planet and brought with him one of his wives (!) from that world to populate ours. Which would make it pretty clear that it wasn’t just his body that originated there.

    Not that I agree. Just saying…

  17. Waiting for R. Gary says:

    I’ve got my stopwatch running.

  18. # 1 mostly fits my thoughts on a reasonable answer. I do believe in a literal Adam and Eve, but all accounts we have of the creation and these first parents are at best symbolic. They represent a tipping point in a divinely directed evolution, resulting in a beginning point for humankind with souls that included our eternal spirit entities, and our mortal bodies. While all the other choices contain a germ of truth of possibility, #1 seems to encompass for me the most likely scenario.

  19. Mark, your # 17 does raise the question. What is the difference between a living organism with a spiritual creation followed by a physically created body, as in an animal, and a living soul (you and I), as described in the D&C as the union of an spirit and a physical body? Pre-adamic zombies is a rather depressing thought.

  20. Mark D., I don’t think it was 6000 years ago… Maybe 50,000. Also, I think all things have spirits. So… would they be zombies? I think while their bodies may not be joined with one of God’s spirit children, I certainly think they were conscious.

  21. I voted for the last option. My view is that there were other people already here, but Adam was the first with the priesthood and fullness of the gospel. We get the sense that this is what happened, given that even Adam did not receive a fullness until many of his own children were grown. When Cain was born AFTER the gospel was revealed, Eve stated she had finally gotten a child from the Lord – meaning one under the full gospel and priesthood.

  22. As Cap says, all life has spirits. But, as I understand it, only humans have the degree of agency that requires an atonement. So any proto-humans would have spirits, but spirits that are more limited than ours. I think Adam/Eve happened when evolution (as designed by God) had developed a sufficiently complex organism (reflecting the image of God) to support these disturbingly complex spiritual beings.

  23. Ram,
    That’s seems more like the 1st or third option to me. But to each their own, I guess.

  24. glass ceiling says:

    I vote Raymond ‘s vote.

    On an equally important note, belonging to a church that allows for the creation story and science to exist together is such a blessing…and missionary tool.

    Think of the bumper-sticker war we have all witnessed for the past 20 years finally reaching an armistice in LDS doctrine. It’s nothing short of wonderful.

  25. observer fka eric s says:

    Saw petroglyphs a few weeks back at the Grand Gallery in Southern Utah: It is nothing less than fascinating and spiritual to stand and look at these. They estimate it was created between 7k and 9k years ago. IF that assumption is accurate, these reflected to me that there was obviously self-awareness and conscience at least that long ago. Query whether man’s spirit/soul had entered the body as of that time as it did whenever the man Adam arrived. I voted for #1 along these lines, although I still struggle with chronology issues.

  26. Cap, I tend to think that the idea that humans can even function without a spirit to be more than a little on the dubious side. 6000 or 60000 doesn’t make a difference. That is why I killed my father, he wasn’t a living soul, etc. doesn’t work for me.

  27. But I clearly said that I do think that they did have a spirit. I don’t think we should make things so cut and dry as the only valuable creations are those that have both body and a spirit that is one of the “spirit children” of our HF, but should see things that have spirits as worthy and valuable and conscious as well. The only difference I can see is, as @R pointed out, the direct need of the Atonement, in the sense that we need it. Humans, I think, never functioned without a spirit just as no animal functions without a spirit. There was just a definite change in the . . . type of spirit, (for lack of a better term).

  28. I’m on record as believing #1. I see evolution as the creative process by which the Gods created the physical bodies that spirit children eventually could inhabit.

  29. I agree with #1 in principle, but I think there’s more to the story than that. I don’t think that Adam was born on another planet. #3 could be true as well as #1. #2 is obviously a parable of sorts. I don’t know what “God come down to earth to provide bodies for His children” is driving at.

  30. MCQ,
    Adam-God Theory

  31. Is this a variation on the question of whether Adam has a belly button or not?

    Had to go with option #2, per Genesis 2:7
    I don’t have a problem with evolution as it relates to animals and plants, but not for humans. If human evolution, what made Adam so different from his father, to be God’s chosen?

  32. Adam accepted the fullness of the gospel and received the priesthood. THAT is what made him different from others that preceded him.

  33. All of our prophetic statements say that Adam was the first “man” – and they describe that distinction in terms of being the first combination of a mortal body and an immortal spirit that was the created child of God. In this view, former man-like creations were not that unique combination – they weren’t spirit children of God.

    Genesis 6 is intriguing – and it’s one I defintely chalk up even more strongly to “as far as it is translated correctly”.

  34. I don’t think you can have two different types of ‘Humans” (spirted and non spirted) in the same time and space and not have interbreeding. What happens then?

  35. My vote is myth. To really have your mind blown, read “Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey” by Spencer Wells. The real Adam lived in Africa 80,000 years ago. Shockingly, he also wasn’t 6 feet tall, caucasian, with a brown missionary haircut and perfect part.

  36. #36. WHAT?! I can believe that he lived 80,000 years ago, and wasn’t 6 feet tall, but I refuse to believe that he did not have a missionary hair cut!

  37. notknowingbeforehand,

    But he did have great teeth.

  38. StillConfused says:

    I believe in evolution. I have no issue with that at all. I do not believe that Adam was the first human. That part I think is mythical. I see him more as the first man for whom there is written history.

  39. it's a series of tubes says:

    Recently, a link was posted on BCC to an article discussing “in the image of God” – the author discussed how while at University, he proposed to study the entire Book of Genesis in a semester – his instructor thought that one chapter might be too much. Can anyone point me to the post in question, or the name of the author of the article? There were some thoughts in that article that I want to review before posting my response to this poll.

  40. That’s a Jim Faulconer statement, but I don’t know the link in question.

  41. it's a series of tubes says:

    Thanks John. I’ve now located the recent post about Jim, by i can’t seem to find a link to the article I thought I remembered from there. I’ll cast a broader net:

    Can anyone point me in the direction of an article (99% sure a link was recently posted on BCC) where the author goes through the Hebrew text of Genesis in some detail to establish what being created in the “image” and “likeness” of God means?

  42. I’m one of the few who went with #5. I have no real justification. While I believe in evolution, I’m not convinced (or perhaps I don’t want to believe) that mankind flows in with that stream. I think man was more or less injected here, but born the way the rest of us were. (So, yes, Adam had a navel, IMO).

    I’ll be fine with whatever it end up being, but it will sure be interesting to find out (or remember).

  43. it's a series of tubes says:

    Question for those who selected #1 or #6 – so evolution just happened to evolve for us bodies that look exactly like God? Isn’t that a trifle “convenient”, given the statistical principles supposedly at play in natural selection?

  44. Chris Gordon says:

    Can someone give me a working definition of “myth” for the purposes of this conversation? I think I’m gathering that there’s the idea that it is “not to be taken literally,” but are we looking at it for more or less than that?

    I’m partial to the notion that Adam and Eve were the first to accept the gospel as preached by heavenly beings. I don’t think you lose anything from their story that way (provided you’re willing to accept it as “myth” by my definition) and it allows for a smooth understanding of both evolution and Biblical history.

    That said I voted the last one. I’m pretty happy to file this one under things that “He may yet reveal,” even if I’m not convinced that it’s an “important thing related to the kingdom of God.”

  45. I personally believe in the term “myth” as a story that may be based on fact, but possibly expanded or changed over time.

    I also think that Adam and Eve were the first to accept the gospel, just as Abraham was the first with the covenant, yet others would be blessed by the covenant he made.

  46. tubes,
    Are you thinking of this? Careful: it’s long.

  47. For the purpose of the poll, I intended myth to mean fiction. That said, I understand that the word has multiple meanings.

  48. John C.’s link won’t work for me, but I’m thinking along the lines of convergent evolution. Maybe. Past the fact that evolution happens (and that includes the evolution of man), and that Adam was a real person (probably the first prophet), I’m not sure what I believe. Too much unknown.

  49. Myth is too strong a word. Another category should have been “Allegory.” Obviously we do not have Adam’s Y chromosome or Eve’s mitochondrial DNA. Obviously there were sophisticated people like us roaming the earth 30k years ago. They had no souls? They did not know the power of love?

    If God notices when a sparrow falls, he certainly honored and loved all those people.

  50. I don’t see the point here. Pleople seem to think any fantasy or plot they can make up is as good as any science, doctrine, or fact. That they can create any tale they want, as long as it makes them feel good, and their fantasy is to be taken as right-on as anyone’s.

  51. it's a series of tubes says:

    John, the link you posted doesn’t seem to be working. Can you repost?

  52. Should be working now

  53. it’s a series of tubes.

    With the vastness of the universe, and the horribly long amount of time it has been around, trusting that God works through complexities, it would be more unbelievable to say that something like us (or… us) did not exist.

  54. it's a series of tubes says:

    Thanks John. That monstrous comment was not what I was recalling, but I appreciate your trying to find what I was after, based on only my vague description.

    Cap: let me make sure I am not misunderstanding you… are you saying that the process went something as follows?
    -God creates a vast universe, and allows it to progress through various natural laws at play.
    -Somewhere, eventually, some life arises that has a hominid form that is the express “image” and “likeness” of Gods hominid form.
    -God then puts the spirits of his spirit children into these bodies, leaving our esteemed man “Adam” with an agency an oppotunity for progression quite unlike his pphysical parents on earth.

    Is this correct?

  55. it's a series of tubes says:

    IE7 and the comment box are killing me. Long comments get garbled… “an agency and opportunity for”, “physical”.

  56. I think they’re all possible, minus the last one. Been a scientist too long now to be able to eliminate any of them.

  57. it’s a series of tubes

    Uh… yeah. More or less. I put a link to a paper I wrote regarding it on #9. Specifically dealing with Evolution and the creation. I think God works through complexities and understands them fully.

  58. Meaning, God understands complex systems. Why should we limit him with the inability to understand scientific concepts that we can easily see around us. Rather, I feel he uses these things to meet a certain criteria that he wishes or is omnisciently aware of. What is time to God? Why does it matter if he created the Earth in 6 days, 6000 days or 3.6billion years? What is important (I feel) is how he did it, and how we can understand his methods to grow more like him and understand the full magnitude of his plan.

  59. Wes Brown says:

    How can myth be too strong a word? Adam, Eve, Eden, Lilith, Hera, Zues, Hesperides… Are we really discussing whether these places or names occurred in anything other than fiction?
    I’m sorry, but I can’t tell if people here think they are talking about reality or if this resembles a thread about the DC 52, where people speculate on events and characters while understanding that they are discussing fiction. Hmmmm.

  60. It's Not Me says:

    I voted “don’t know and don’t care to know,” but would have voted for “Don’t know, not sure, very curious, don’t feel the ultimate answer will affect me in any way.”

  61. #60. Myth: “…a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.” With an emphasis for the moment on “with or without a determinable basis of fact.”

    When my family talks about my great grandfather (after whom I am named) it’s all myth. Of course, the events took place. He was real. But the way his life is presented in our family… myth.

    I don’t think humans operate on the level of “this event actually happened, after which this event actually happened, after which this event actually happened.” I’m not sure that would be very useful at all. Historical events really have to be mythologized before they’re even really useful to us. So as far as Adam and Eve are concerned, well, they may or may not have existed, but I have a tiny suspicion that if we could sit through their actual lives and watch… we’d be quite bored. The myth is a bajillion times better.

  62. Adam is a clear break from evolution. Not only was the speech center of his brain fully developed, he was genetically perfect. The extremely long life life spans before the flood indicate to me a gene pool relatively free from the defects that naturally occur over time. Had he “evolved”, his DNA would have been rife with defects.

    Evolution is less a scientific fact than a spiritual one. Life was commanded to live. In the words of Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way”. That’s how life rolls. It has this will of unimaginable magnitude propelling it forward, a direct and glaring contradiction of the laws of thermodynamics. God experiences life through his creations, which roll forth adapting and evolving in this big spherical petri dish. Just because God lets life do its thing doesn’t mean he won’t do something special when he sees fit, such as creating Man outright.

    What troubles me is the 7% figure (Adam created here) within an LDS blog. If you wonder why miracles are dead, look in the mirror. If your teachers have all the answers, why are the world’s economies in shambles in the face of unprecedented bounty? Why do you prefer their cynical line of humanist bull crap over the words of the prophets?

  63. “Why should we limit him with the inability to understand scientific concepts that we can easily see around us.”

    I don’t understand why people continually assume that God and science are different things.

  64. For those of us who accept evolution, but also accept Adam’s literal reality, there should be a few more choices:

    1. Adam was a Neanderthal, chosen and set apart by God from among the Neanderthals, formed from the dust of the earth through evolution, given the divine breath of life to set him apart from the Animals.

    2. Adam was a Neanderthal, who lived in the Garden of Eden in innocence with all the other Neanderthals. God and Satan interacted with Adam, symbolically represented by the Tree of Knowledge, after which Adam became “as the gods” and became separate from the animals.

    3. Adam was a Neanderthal formed from the dust of the earth, through evolution, directed by a non-corporeal Higher Power or Holy Spirit. Adam embraced the divine through either the “breath of life” or the “tree of knowledge” and became separate from the animals….
    …Then….Adam died and evolved to become, “your God, my God, and the only God with which any of us have anything to do” as Brigham Young stated.

    Thus, we have a God of flesh and bone, in the form of an evolved Chimpanzee, precisely because Adam, (the evolved monkey) IS God, exactly as Brigham Young said.

    Number 3 resolves not only the conflict between Adam and Evolution, but it also resolves the Adam-God Theory.

    Evolution’s biggest conflict with Mormon doctrine is the corporeal nature of God. Evolution proves that human anatomy is a highly specialized form resulting from numerous environmental and evolutionary factors. The Mormon idea that the human form actually comes from God is antithetical to evolution, as much as a 6 day creation is.

    But Brigham Young and his dear Adam God Theory resolves all this for us! God is in the form of a man, because God is Adam!

  65. FarAway, I think you are a neanderthal. Get FartherAway.

  66. It’s series of tubes (#40), I think it might have been this post by RAF on Jim F. btw, the story you are speaking of is also in Jim’s excellent book ‘Scripture Study’.

  67. The concept of theistic evolution has always struck me as unscientific. Is it purely natural selection or a form of super-natural selection? If purely natural is it a contingent random fact that humans even exist? If supernatural selection how does that differ from intelligent design? [Even if God destroyed the dinosaurs, for example, how could he guarantee that humans would evolve through completely natural means?]

    Seems hard to suggest that Adam is a myth since he was apparently seen by both Joseph Smith (D&C 128) and Joseph F. Smith (D&C 138) … unless, of course, both these ‘seers’ were actually blind!

    As for the notion of human zombies that is actually a respected philosophical position and there is even some bizarre anecdotal evidence to support it. The existence of consciousness – now that is the hard problem!

  68. MJ, where do you stand? I agree that ID is not a viable option.

    To the OP: because I don’t understand the processes well enough and because the scriptures are quite ambiguous I am split between options that make us evolution through and through and the body being a product of evolution and the spirit from God. In this I suspect that God’s breath of life is an important feature of the narrative which forms a break of some kind between the form of redemption offered to us and the type of redemption offered to other forms of life. Yet, I am also not convinced that we can uphold radical discontinuities between us and other species and therefore I am left with more questions than answers.

  69. A couple of points:

    Neanderthals were not our ancestors; chimpanzees weren’t either. We evolved from common ancestors, making us distant (very, very distant) cousins. Obviously chimps are more distant relatives than Neanderthals were–there’s evidence that humans successfully interbred with Neanderthals, for example (most or all of us are a small part Neanderthal).

    Evolution does not in any way contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics (one of my chemistry professors at BYU was very adamant about this point, stating that those who said it did contradict evolution had no understanding of the Second Law).

    “Even if God destroyed the dinosaurs, for example, how could he guarantee that humans would evolve through completely natural means?”
    Uh–he’s God? I don’t know about you, but my God can guarantee things like that. I’m not saying he destroyed the dinosaurs–quite honestly, I don’t know if he did or not. I do know that saying “God did it because their is no other explanation,” which is basically what “Intelligent Design” says, stifles scientific discovery and can in many cases be proven wrong. I don’t think God left shining neon lights in our DNA that scream “God created me!” He expects us to operate by faith, not discover his existence through science. “Intelligent Design” is like the Tower of Babel–people trying to find God in all the wrong places.

  70. Tim,

    The point was not to point out a limitation in God but rather a basic truth about evolution – it is random, contingent and unpredictable. To suppose that God directed it does not differ in kind from the notion of special creations by God. The scientific theory of evolution does not involve the notion of any interventions by God at all. In other words, the origin of species (through descent with modification) comes about in completely natural ways – there is no need to use God to explain either its mechanism or its direction. So why should we believe that humans are the intended result of natural selection?

    Its true that ID doesn’t have much of a scientific leg to stand on. My point is neither does Theistic Evolution.

    It seems to me we need a bit more information to decide this issue categorically. But I can’t see how faith in a metaphorical or mythical Adam does not descend into a similar faith in a metaphorical or mythical Jesus. Surely the notion of the fall is as real (or mythical) as the notion of the atonement.

    An embodied God, the nature of pre-mortal spirits, the doctrine of Adam’s inability to procreate until after the fall are all difficulties unique to mormonism that makes it hard to harmonise with evolution. Once these obtacles are overcome it is possible to believe in a limited form of evolution and a specific special creation of Adam & Eve. Peter van Inwagen has a interesting plausible story about how to make the Garden of Eden account compatible with evolution. But he doesn’t have to account for some unique LDS scriptural claims.

  71. #70 I agree that evolution does not break the laws of thermodynamics. But what I said was, life does as it reaches forth to exist. We live in a world of machines. Do any of them want to live? No, they want to die. We call it entropy. Life depends on materials as a platform for living, and that platform is governed by the laws of thermodynamics as well as other physical laws. But life itself has this force of sheer awesomeness behind it that we are blind to as part of our Free Agency experiment. That’s the spiritual part. Without it there would be no life. If the actual process of living were governed solely by thermodynamics, we would all be dead. And then how would I be typing this?

  72. #71: M J,
    I think you outlined the issues very well. Evolution is a Godless/Planless model of Science. I don’t think Science can or will move off of this because that’s how Science works.

  73. “Evolution is a Godless/Planless model of Science.”

    That has been the motto of pretty much every theist who opposes evolution since evolution first was articulated.

    It just isn’t the “given” that it is presented as being by those theists, especially within a theology that disavows creation ex nihilo.

    “An embodied God, the nature of pre-mortal spirits, the doctrine of Adam’s inability to procreate until after the fall are all difficulties unique to mormonism that makes it hard to harmonise with evolution.”

    Only for those who take everything literally. For those who are open to symbolic mythology to explain the literal, Mormonism can be harmonized with evolution much more easily (and, imo, is much more compatible with evolution)than most other Christian theologies.

  74. Thanks Ray. Perfectly said!! I like this thought from Leibniz who asked how could God, the absolute embodiment of a perfect being, be so clumsy as to create a reality which needed regular maintenance? Evolution and complexities makes the most sense.

  75. Let me put it this way:

    Mormonism is the most “evolutionary” theology in all of Christianity when it comes to the life of our spirits – and the interaction of the physical and the spiritual – and the very nature of matter – and other fundamental aspects of our eternal existence.

    It’s one thing to argue against “Godless evolution” (which I do) and quite another to argue that the concept of physical evolution is antithetical to Mormonism (which makes absolutely no sense to me, especially given our belief that ALL matter is eternal and even our spirits are “physical” when it comes right down to it).

    Again, at its heart, Mormon theology is evolutionary in nature – as it posits that something not like God in the beginning becomes like God through a series of changes to its core state of being. It posits that we started out as one thing and literally will evolve into something very different. God is the director of this growth and change – the great scientist, if you will, who takes intelligences and works with them until they become Gods.

  76. #74: Ray,
    That’s my point: Science will not/can not replace it’s model of Evolution with “symbolic mythology”. Only Religion can do that.

  77. #77 – Bob, I’m saying there doesn’t have to be a replacement involved. “Science” doesn’t “do” anything. Scientists do. Science isn’t an opponent of Religion; it’s a discipline theists need to understand and use properly in their atempts to explain the physical creation of our world.

    The issue isn’t with Science – or even with most scientists, many of whom are committed theists. The real issue is how badly (actually, horribly) many theists have butchered their explanations of creation, often by misrepresenting Science and making it an opponent it doens’t need to be.

    In that sense, Science isn’t the problem; WE are.

  78. I have more quesitons than answers. If we say Adam was the first soul…with a spirit and body, that kinda takes care of the now there is death thing, because before that there wouldn’t be a separation of body and soul…yet what about all of the previous bodies? spiritless? how so? what about eh idea that everything has a spirit? did it not have a spirit until the fall?

    Is there God led or helped along evolution? It sure would’ve helped to have some DNA dropped into the soup. Sure the very nature of evolution is random, but some well placed weather could help, a comet here and there, a drought-detroying some lines.

    I still don’t really piece together evolution and the fall. Was life different before the fall? In what ways? was death different and how? Was the planet different?

    I generlaly put it all on the back burner and jsut let it all coexist. I like science. I like the gospel…somehow they mesh adn I haven’t the slightest on this wissue how that works.

  79. #76: Ray,
    IMO, you confuse “Evolution”__ a model of Science, with “evolutionary progress”, a model of Mormonism.

  80. #79, The way I see it, Adam was not a person, he is the representation of humankind getting a soul. Hebrew for Adam is “Mankind”. Carl Sagan brought up an interesting point in his book “The Dragons of Eden”, that there was a certain point where the human brain evolved enough to where it understood death in a greater sense then does any other creature. We see it and observe it, but we started to understand (about 50,000 years ago, I think) that we, and everything inevitably dies. It was a sudden change in knowing that something was dead to knowing that everything will someday die.

    This to me could be some type of origin where the myth could have gained its roots in no death before the fall. No understanding of deaths inevitability…

  81. I’m hesitant to move Adam into myth and away from reality because of our strong connection between the fall and the atonement.

    If adam is virtual…or representative, or myth or just kinda a concept of what happened…then what is Christ? Adam doesn’t need to be real, but Christ does? If we take out Adam, what else falls out?

  82. #80 – No, I don’t confuse the two. I’m saying they aren’t mutually exclusive, and no replacement is necessary.

  83. There’s no doubt in my mind that Christ’s atonement became necessary after man developed the ability to know and understand the difference between good and evil (and thus had the ability to fall). I believe that knowing the difference between the two was not a sudden, instantaneous thing–but that doesn’t make Christ’s atonement any less necessary.

  84. #82 – “If we take out Adam, what else falls out?”

    I’m saying we don’t need to take out Adam – and that pretty much nobody here is suggesting we do that. In fact, within Mormonism, “Adam fell that men might be” might have MUCH deeper meaning if “Adam” is understood to be “mankind” and “Eve” is understood to be “mother” – whether or not Adam and Eve also were individuals.

    This doesn’t have to be an either / or.

    The story of Adam and Eve can be literal or figurative – or even a combination of literal and figurative. It can be mythological in the purest sense of the word – a grand narrative that might or might not be based in fact but has great meaning, regardless.

  85. To me, Adam represents mankind’s move from innocence (inability to understand difference between good and evil) to the fall (understanding difference between good and evil and at times choosing evil) to again coming closer to God through the atonement. Details like the serpent, the fruit, and the rib don’t have to be literal for the story to have power. In fact, it has quite a bit more power if taken symbolically. If we take the story literally without considering the symbolic aspects or how Adam is like us, the story is fairly useless.

  86. I think Adam represents our move from being in God’s presence in the pre-mortal life to our experiencing physical bodies. Adam represents that change and moving from innocence to gaining knowledge. Although, I feel it is a myth, I also find that there are a lot of truth’s that can be found in it. We are here to gain knowledge in a great part, but with that knowledge comes sin, and so through the atonement we can be forgiven those things and gain eternal life.

  87. I just don’t see how you can resist the claim that the atonement is a meaningful myth if you believe that all aspects of the Adam story are likewise myth. Everyone ought to know that parts of the story are metaphorical but clearly our scriptures treat Adam as a real person. It will be tough to explain parts of D&C 27; 84; 107; 116; 128; and 138 if ‘Adam’ is not a real person.

  88. I voted #3, “the product of God nudging evolution along.” For my comment, I’m going to sub in the word “nature” for “science” because “nature” doesn’t seem to have the same semantic baggage as “science.” I really have no nature vs. God conflicts, because to me nature is just another one of God’s processes. I am prone to think that the earth was made (via whatever natural process actually took place), the waters were formed, life occurred (lightning strike creating amino acids?), on whatever time table was actually required and under the supervision and power of God. Life was allowed to develop as it happened. When the time came for the first humans, the generic DNA that we share with all other critters (and common humanoid ancestors/cousins) fulfilled the need (either by original design culminating in the ultimate object, or concentrated tweaking) and – voila – humans. As for those proto-humans that came before us, aren’t there some apocryphal accounts of pre-Adamic peoples? That opens up all sorts of fun avenues for speculation! Because it is my fondest hope that God is actually reasonable and fair, I don’t worry for the salvation/eternal happiness of those pre-Adamic folk.

    And yeah, a black Adam is totally rad. So very happy that the church is making an effort to show we aren’t all whiteys.

  89. I guess I’m saying if Adam is a represetnation of a shift in understanding-of death, of good and evil…then is Christ also a representation of a shift in understanding?

    It’s interesting to consider “as in adam all die…” in the concept of like Adam we come to understand death and what it means…and in Christ we understand life and what it is.

    Is Adam also a specific person? Is the fall and actual event or a longer in time more general shift…what does that mean for salvation? Is it similar?

    Could eve be womankind if adam is mankind? or adam father and eve mother-my eye starts to twitch if Adam represents all of us and Eve get labor.

  90. M J, There is a lot of evidence, just with how the story is written that it is a myth. A myth, that I think largely explains the happenings in the pre-mortal life. Hence, this specific creations myth importance in our theology and doctrine. However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a type of fall, or rather, a type of change, that didn’t require an atonement. But instead the atonement is there for us to overcome the affects of us coming here and gaining imperfect bodies and being imperfect ourselves. The atonement was actual and is needed because of an actual plan where we would grow out of our innocent states, but a literal garden and man and woman are not needed in this.

  91. glass ceiling says:

    I agree with LessonNumberOne’s last one. If Adam is virtual, what else is?

    We also know that Adam will be at Adam-Ondi-Ahman in the future. So, Adam is a bit more than metaphor.

    But along those lines, the story exemplifies how we could not know the glory of God and His Son without knowing sin. Just like everything else, there is no substitute for experience.

  92. #88 – MJ, fwiw, I currently believe Adam and Eve are two things: the first true “human parents” (God’s spirit children inserted into bodies created through evolution) AND terms used to symbolize all men and women. I can accept the Atonement and the existence of distinct and unique parents of a distinct and unique “species” without having to accept the Garden of Eden narrative as literal.

    Our own Article of Faith says clearly that the Bible needs to be “translated correctly” to be the word of God, and “interpreted or transmitted properly” is part of “translated”, imo. I don’t know for sure about any of this, since Eden is an ancient narrative (which, fwiw, is understood to be symbolic and figurative by most Jews) – so I choose to remain open to either option or a combination of the two. Personally, right now, I choose a combination of the two – believing it makes the whole thing more comprehensive and powerful than limiting it to either one alone.

    “I don’t see how . . .”

    I appreciate your wording – since that really is the heart of the issue for you personally. You don’t see how – and that’s fine. Just recognize, please, that others do see how. That doesn’t make their view “right” – but it also doesn’t make it “wrong”. It just makes it possible – and recognizing others’ views as possible makes all the difference in discussions like this. I know my own views of numerous things have changed a bit (and sometimes radically) over the years I’ve spent in the Bloggernacle, simply through exposure to things I didn’t see naturally that others saw differently.

  93. glass ceiling says:

    Furthermore, I believe that the details of Creation will not be known until God Himself tells us.

    I love arguments about how, for instance, the universe was created. “Big Bang Theory ” is always used to somehow belittle religion. The real question is, what was going on five minutes before the Big Bang? The chances that something ever happened at all should lead one to believe in God. What are the chances of any of it happening otherwise?
    I mean, where did the materials come from to create the Big Bang? And the fact that a living creature of any sort exists in the universe is a miracle. Why should the details if how humans got here be an argument of whether God exists?

    I understand that the Book of Genesis sets us up, but only if we let it. But letting it is just one if the many beautiful aspects of LDSism.

  94. glass ceiling says:

    Oops. It should read “….but not letting it..

  95. 94. Glass Ceiling “What was going on five minutes before the Big Bang?”

    Since you ask, let me turn the floor over to Steven Hawking.

    If you travel back in time toward the moment of the big bang, the universe gets smaller until it comes to a point where the whole universe is in a space so small that it is “in effect a single infinitesimally small, infinitesimally dense black hole…Its gravitational field is so powerful it doesn’t only warp and distort light but also time,” he explains. Time, thus, doesn’t exist in the black hole.

    “You can’t get to a time before the big bang because there was no before the big bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me, this means there is no possibility of a Creator because there is no time for a Creator to have existed.”

    “Since time itself began at the moment of the big bang, it was an event that could not have been caused or created by anyone or anything.”

  96. “The chances that something ever happened at all should lead one to believe in God. What are the chances of any of it happening otherwise?”

    If God created a complex universe, wouldn’t it have taken an even more complex entity to create God?

  97. glass ceiling says:

    Not knowing,

    Sounds a lot like science fiction. Hawking. Is interesting, but he is a mere mortal. Thanks for that though. It is fascinating. Truly.

  98. glass ceiling says:

    How God was created is tgw real question. We can take this thread to 200 with that…

  99. Hawking doesn’t have the greatest track record in black hole theory, and he definitely has stretched this theory beyond the physical to the meta-physical.

  100. The beautiful thing is that it isn’t science fiction. It’s science, and I think through this thread we can see that God uses science, so we cannot so easily discount something like time stopping because of density (something we can easily observer) as science fiction. And, according to our own doctrine, many things Joseph Smith taught, God progressed, much like we will progress into Godhood.

  101. #96 – That quote is circular reasoning at its best. Just because Hawking was brilliant doesn’t mean everything he said was brilliant.

    I’m not saying anything about if his statement is accurate or not; I’m just saying it’s lousy reasoning he would tear apart if said by a theist.

  102. I chose #3. I am a bit partial to Nibley’s Revolution, not evolution argument he makes in his “Before Adam” paper. Its definitely worth reading, even if some of the science is dated.

  103. it's a series of tubes says:

    Hawking doesn’t have the greatest track record in black hole theory, and he definitely has stretched this theory beyond the physical to the meta-physical.

    Indeed. For those with more interest in this particular topic, “The Black Hole War” by Leonard Susskind is a compelling read.

    I have a couple genuine questions for those who take the position that Adam’s body was the product of eveolution (directed or otherwise), because I’d like to get better insight into those perspectives.

    My question is this: By what process or power, in your view, did Christ turn the water to wine per John 2? (presuming, of course, that you view such event as being a tangible, physical transformation of the elements, not just an impression in the minds of the guests)
    Follow-up question: By what process or power, in your view, did Christ walk on water per Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6?

  104. it’s a series of tubes:

    Seeing as we don’t have any scientific evidence for how those things happened, I have no idea. No clue whatsoever.

    Contrast that with the evolution of the human form–We have plenty of scientific evidence on how the human body evolved.

  105. it's a series of tubes says:

    I see. So you are saying God operates in various entirely unknown (perhaps unknowable), yet unbelievably powerful ways when performing certain simple “miraculous” acts. This same, powerful God yet somehow is bound by the vagaries of chance, random selection, and time when it comes to the core of his great plan – embodying his spirit progeny so that they may experience death and resurrection in order to become like Him. And the governing principles of such a core component of his plan, of course, are in fact so straightforward that have been discovered and worked out with certainty by some of his children on the present side of the veil.

    I can see it now: God impatiently tapping his foot for billions of years, while endless masses of spirit humanity pester Him: “Are they ready yet?” “Not yet.” “Are they ready yet?” “Not yet.” “Are they ready yet?” “Not yet! Not yet! Go bother your mother!”

  106. StillConfused says:

    I am glad that not everyone takes the Adam and Eve story literally. There are so many of these types of stories that I sometimes feel people (Mormons especially) feel required to believe literally.

  107. it's a series of tubes says:

    The resulting pestering, of course, being the reason why HM wants some time away from the kids while they are here on earth, and has told HF that they are all his for this “week” :)

  108. it’s a series of tubes–

    No one is saying that “God…is bound by the vagaries of chance, random selection, and time.”

    God is all powerful. If he had wanted to created us directly and instantaneously from the dust, he could have.

    And the whole “impatiently tapping his foot for billions of years” shtick is silly. Our faith teaches us that God’s time isn’t our time. I hardly think God and “spirit humanity” were just sitting there, twiddling their thumbs, for billions of years. I really doubt they (we) measured it as being billions of years. As the Book of Mormon teaches, “All is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto man.” Alma 40:8.

  109. #109. Agreed. Also, I think William Lane Craig has argued persuasively that any being is required to work efficiently ONLY if that being has either limited time or resources, or both. God has neither limited time nor limited resources, so he is not bound to do anything in a short amount of time, neither is it impossible that God created the vastness of space, and the varieties of life within it, simply for its own beauty and because he could. He has no reason to conserve energy, time, space, or resources.

  110. #104 & #106 – Not thank you. I’m going to get into that type of debate. Nobody is questioning God’s power, so it’s a non-starter for me – especially when couched in such condescending, sarcastic, inaccurate terms.

    I’m not playing that game.

  111. Wow. Ignore the mistakes in #111 – not the intended message.

  112. it's a series of tubes says:

    Tim – the foot tapping schtick was just that, and not intended to be taken seriously. I appreciate that you brought up a GREAT point, though – that of how time is measured. It seems that, based on the scripture you quoted, and various others, that “time” as we currently know and experience it today is a valid yardstick only back to the time of the Fall . Nibley makes the point in some detail in “Before Adam”, previously linked.

    If we accept that proposition, it seems curious how one can insist on certain evidence as “contradicting” a particular approach (i.e., homo neanderthalensis existing ~30K years ago contradicting a “no death before the fall” position; or astronomical calculations of an approx 14B year age of the universe appearing to contradict the 2.55B year figure McConkie uses).

    Stated differently, it seems that all pre-Fall evidence for one position or another must be accompanied by the caveat that, metaphorically speaking, our instruments and measurements MIGHT no longer be applicable or relevant – we don’t know.

    Also, do we really believe that God has ALL power? Alma seems to imply that he does not have the power to take certain courses, at least not while remaining God :)

    Ray – I was not intending to be sarcastic or condescending, so I apologize. Rereading my comments, I would reword them.

    I was, however, attempting to push on the assumptions underpinning some of the positions, in the hope that a little more rigor would emerge as to the WHY someone believes a particular approach. For example, if God had power to choose among many approaches, WHY was course X the course used to prepare bodies for humanity? Why was alternative course Y or Z not used?

  113. #103: What I did not like about Nibley’s paper, or some of the points on this post, is that the “argument” comes down to the Bible creation story or Western science. There are hundreds of more “earth founding” stories in mankind’s history. ALL of these need to be looked at to see if maybe they are the real story or not. I believe the number of men who do not use or ever used either the Bible or Evolution as their story may be a greater number.

  114. My choice is not on there (but it almost is).

    *Born of heavenly Father and heavenly Mother, who came to this earth and ate the solid food so that their child would be a child with flesh and bone instead of a child of spirit.

  115. Wow! 14 votes for Adam-God doctrine! Go President Young!

  116. Wow, 24% of BCC readers don’t believe Adam was a real being. Hmmmm…

  117. And 56% (?) of Americans believes in Planet of the Apes!

  118. God only has a 52% approval rating.

  119. Momomymous says:

    Gotta go with Adam as a myth. That creates plenty of theological problems as others have indicated, but if you accept the reality of modern Darwinian evolution, which I do, you have to accept that the whole process is perhaps inherently non-progressive, which is at odds with the LDS-progression-as-evolution narrative, or at least is tremendously destructive and random (evolution doesn’t necessarily preclude progression, as Richard Dawkins would argue, but I don’t find him very convincing and his arguments are quite different from those of traditional LDS believers who accept evolution). Evolution requires false starts, lots of death, and far more failure than success. To me, attributing the specific process of man’s creation to God’s direct intervention seems to me to demean Him more than anything else. As far as that relates to Adam, I can’t believe that God let natural selection muddle along until it somehow created man (the “foot-tapping” God), nor can I believe He intervened amidst all the chaos of selection to create man, like a director shouting “CUT!”, and then resumed the messy process.

    So where does that leave God in general if he isn’t the direct creator of man in any physical sense, especially for an active LDS guy like me? That’s a tougher question, but hopefully I can still be friends with the more traditional among us!

  120. observer fka eric s says:

    120 – momomymous “To me, attributing the specific process of man’s creation to God’s direct intervention seems to me to demean Him more than anything else. ”

    How is it demeaning? Please ‘xplain.

  121. Love this post and comments. I would like to see a related poll as to the age of the man.

  122. #120: Momomymous,
    You do not have to give up your Adam, if you are willing to accept Dr. Louis Leakey’s Homo habilis as a special creation of man by God outside of normal Bio-Evolution.

  123. glass ceiling says:

    Maybe we should all just admit that WE ALL HAVE NO CLUE. That’s all of us: Moses, Joseph Smith, Nibley, Sagan, Einstein, Hawking, Darwin, the Pope, me and you.

    Now that’s a discussion.

  124. glass ceiling says:

    And why do folks keep denying the fact that Adam is going to be pulling into Jackson County, Missouri one of these days? Do they think the Doctrine and Covenants is a myth too? It’s writer?

  125. “Evolution requires false starts, lots of death, and far more failure than success.”

    Sounds like the Old Testament to me – and the New Testament – and the Book of Mormon – and Church History. In fact, sound like life to me.

  126. #124: glass ceiling,
    I am willing to say I don’t have a lot of answers, but I have book shelves full of clues. I think all of those on your list have clues__and I want to hear them. It’s the only way I can go forward.

  127. Steve Evans says:

    #117 crucial errors in your conclusions. The poll results indicate merely that approx. 24% of respondents believe that Adam is a mythic figure. That doesn’t mean 24% of BCC readers think that way, nor does it mean that they think Adam never existed.

  128. glass ceiling says:

    I agree that there are clues, Bob. I just wish they would stand still for five minutes, shake hands and agree with each other a little more often(er).

  129. I think that we need to agree… of course, but also, through disagreement and discussion we can learn and grow and have a greater understanding of this gospel and the nature of God. That is why we have these discussions and why there are blogs such as this.

  130. #74 Science doesn’t oppose religion per se. Science is a religion unto itself, albeit a Godless one. Most science is so vested in money and politics that it doesn’t pass for science at all in the classical sense.

  131. glass ceiling says:


    I love the blog and its wide spectrum. It just hammers home to me that there is no solid answer. (We were not there. And if we were, we have collective amnesia. )

  132. #131:Bradley,
    Come-come, there is more pure science going on today than ever in history.

  133. #133 Maybe I’m being too harsh. But calling it pure is going a bit too far. When big money backs existing theories, much pure science falls by the wayside because anything outside the mainstream is a pariah. The sad fact is that science can be (and usually is) just as closed-minded as religion. I doubt that Charles Darwin would approve of the evolution theology that grew up around his genuinely scientific observations.

  134. If by mythic figure we merely mean that some of the things said about the real man Adam were mythical then that is something that is non-controversial. Everyone ought to know that certain aspects of the Eden story are metaphorical (e.g. talking serpents, forbidden fruit, rib-removed-and-used-to-create-woman, are some of the obvious candidates for metaphor). But our revelations are clear that a real man Adam was born, married, baptised, prophesied, saw Christ, died, saw Christ again, was resurrected, saw Joseph Smith, and will see Christ again.

    Of course, ‘Adam’ means mankind because he is the representative man – we are all Adam, in that sense. But there was also a real Adam and he played a pivotal role in the actual plan of salvation. Both the BoM and the NT link the fall of Adam with the atonement of Christ – they do this in both a representative (all men) and a real (the actual man) sense. One is as mythical or real as the other.

    If we could ditch our belief in an actual embodied Heavenly Father then the doctrine of the lack of creation of the body of Adam would be easier to digest. As it stands, that Adam was the son of God (See Luke 3:38 & Moses 6:22) can be taken literally by Latter-day Saints since we know that God has a body and is a father. So what we should be arguing for (at most) is a form of evolution compatible with the notion that Adam was a special (direct and divine) creation of God the Father. What will happen to the claim that the spirit came direct from God when there is a viable scientific story for the creation of human consciousness? Then every province for a creator God will be lost. The problem with the ‘God of the gaps’ defence is that the gaps get smaller and smaller.

    We are probably obligated to believe in some form of creationism without being committed to absurd claims about a literal 6 days or the like. Otherwise, the belief in mere meaningful metaphor will creep into other vitally literal claims (the body, speech, gender etc of God and the resurrection, atonement and deification of Christ etc). It is the slippery slope into religious language is meaningful… but only as metaphor. The harmony is all on the side of a literal science while debasing religion to the ultimate meaningful (mere) figure of speech.

    Still the scientific theory of evolution has to fit in somewhere. The problem is its compatibility with the LDS doctrine of the fall (2 Nephi 2) and notion that we are created in the literal image of God (Moses 6:8-9). It is much easier for someone who believes in a non-corporeal God to see the evolution of the human body as compatible with theism. LDS Theism is entirely different given what we know about God and his ability to create children. Why would God use such an inelegant and indirect method to create his own children when he could (and our scriptures indicate that he did) procreate them? That is why the evolution of the human body is incompatible with specifically LDS beliefs.

  135. “Why would God use such an inelegant and indirect method to create his own children when he could (and our scriptures indicate that he did) procreate them? That is why the evolution of the human body is incompatible with specifically LDS beliefs.”

    There is nothing demeaning in believe that God uses evolution. In fact, I think this makes a greater and more realistic God, because he recognizes that things are brought about best through complexities. This takes care of everything from the debate about evolution to why there is natural evil. It even empowers us with freewill because he does not continually meddle in his creation but rather understands that through complexities results that are desired will eventually come about. (And time, I would think as he is God, has little or no meaning to him). This creates our physical bodies through natural laws that have no need or reason for being broken to meet his ends because he is God and knows how natural laws work perfectly, and allows the spirit bodies with he procreated to be placed in the physical shell.

    Evolution in every single way, I think promotes a more powerful and wise and realistic God then a “God of the Gaps” ever could.

  136. Cap,

    God fathering a human body doesn’t break any natural laws. It is also fairly realistic also.

    The explanation for natural evil in an evolution only universe is straightforward but the problem of evil is magnified. Why should so many life forms suffer and die before God can even come close to ‘creating’ humans? The fall of man is really no explanation for the presence of death, decay or natural evil except in a purely ‘mythical’ sense. The origin of such has absolutely nothing to do with man … unless, of course, we substitute ‘God’ for ‘man’! The fall is actually inherent to the natural existence of the universe rather than an explanation of why things devolved from paradise.

    Did the almost-human-like creatures prior to ‘Adam’ have spirits that were in the likeness of their bodies (D&C 77:2 & Ether 3) or were they spirit-less? If they had spirits were they the true ‘less valiant’ in premortality? Was it a special act on God’s part to put a spirit into ‘Adam’ or was it entirely similar to what had gone on before with these other hominids? Will I eventually find myself ‘sealed’ to some embarrassingly hairy ancestor or even worse some fish-like predecessor? These, and others, are the kinds of questions that the LDS must face if we want to harmonise evolution with the creation and fall of man.

    Evolution is a fairly tight theory and it is basic to biology. There is no doubt about that. But it does conflict with the natural readings we have from several scriptures. The conflict is far more pronounced for Latter-day Saints than most others… even with a metaphorical reading of the creation and fall stories. Besides, it is not true that creation by evolution is the best that a believer in a great and powerful and wise God could hope for. Creation by procreation trumps it everyday. What if Darwin (in the spirit world) has come up with an evolutionary theory for the origin of the spirit – would that be better than the one we already have – would that gives us a better God? {I hope it is obvious here that I am being facetious!}

    BTW, I respect that this is not an easy issue and I respect all those who struggle to address it. They deserve admiration for the fact that they don’t just ignore the issue. There is some wriggle room in the plan – but not as regards God’s actual children, in my view.

  137. MJ, serious question:

    Can you see how it is possible to agree with the LDS-specific aspects of what you said in your last comment and also believe that our bodies were created by God through an evolutionary process?

    You keep arguing that evolution is less compatible with LDS theology than with other Christian theologies, and I just don’t see it. The belief that God is a corporeal being with a tangible body leads me to see evolution as FAR more compatible with LDS theology than other Christian theologies – most of which denigrate physicality in a very real and core way. Add in the idea that “as man is, God once was” (which is controversial enough that it is not universal Mormon doctrine, not taught actively in the Church presently and which is totally up in the air for me personally), and I just don’t see evolution as incompatible with Mormon theology at all.

  138. M J, “Why should so many life forms suffer and die before God can even come close to ‘creating’ humans?” This is apart of natural evil. Easily worked around with a belief in natural laws being obeyed. God allows it because it is not evil in the first place. It is part of nature and he is not accountable for the results because he understands complexities and what they bring about. The harder questions are in regards to Moral evil, (but that’s a discussion for another time). Evolution is an empowering idea for this because if that is the only way to create complexity, it makes God not responsible for the resultant pain suffering in the natural world.

    “Did the almost-human-like creatures prior to ‘Adam’ have spirits that were in the likeness of their bodies (D&C 77:2 & Ether 3) or were they spirit-less?” I don’t think we can say that any spirit is unimportant. They all have value in the eyes of God, but yes, in this case, I believe that it wasn’t until the human body was ready physically and mentally that we gained a spirit (as one of the spirit children of our God). I see Adam as a representative myth for this change taking place. I see the spirits of less evolved man the same as all animals. They are important and have spirits, but are distinctly different than the free agents we are and were before this life.

    I’ll leave the last paragraph you wrote alone as Ray answered that one perfectly.

  139. Ray,

    Let me put it this way: Evolution of the human body is less compatible with a belief in an embodied God that can father embodied children than it is with an embodied God that cannot (for example, Spinoza’s God) or with an unembodied God that creates in a natural way (and dislikes physicality) or even with an unembodied God that creates (the universe) ex nihilo (and dislikes physicality). The issue is that other theologies have no reason to defend the view that we physically look like God or are literally his physical descendants. Evolution is less compatible with these points than procreation is. Certainly these points are not more compatible with evolution than the rejection of them is. It is not merely that God is embodied – it is that he is capable of fatherhood in LDS thought.


    I am well aware of the distinction between moral and natural evil. Here is my question: Is evolution “the only way” available to God ‘to create complexity”? While were talking about compatibility – is the special creation of Adam compatible with the prior evolution of other hominids? There seems to be no reason to rule out a special creation along the lines of uniquely LDS scriptures (and theology) even if one believes in evolution for everything else.

  140. Momomymous says:

    @121, 123
    As my post indicated, if man is the result of the evolutionary process (which to me is undeniable), then to suggest that God had a direct hand it in implies that He’s either sloppy or incompetent, because the mechanisms of natural selection are death, repeated failure, and random chance. There is no room for the elegant, progressive models of evolution a lot of folks seems to want to espouse. Nor can I believe in special creation – that God yells “CUT!” and inserts his intended creations when the process of selection isn’t working out, again implying that God’s just not good at his job. Creation as it actually happens, rather than what scripture says, does not fit my concept of God; therefore I absolve him of responsibility for it.

  141. “therefore I absolve him of responsibility for it.”

    He’ll be pleased to hear that.

    But it’s not looking good for God either way…

  142. Maybe it isn’t obvious – but I am taking literally the notion that Adam was born it is what the scriptures say about his parents that makes his creation special. Obviously, the evolution of Adam’s body is not compatible with that.

  143. I have come to the conclusion that life is the most chaotic of all physical systems. For example, milliseconds make a difference in what kind of a person will be born by which possible fertilizing sperm. The whole world can change based on that millisecond.

    The Gods, in my humble opinion, know this and seek to utilize this wonderful thing. What is necessary is the creation of as much different sorts of life as possible because this is the way of growth and progress in the universe. One can never predict, even God, what sort of changes new life will bring into existence in the universe.

    If this is the case, God will NOT intervene in the life progress of this planet because He will want to discover the new life forms and patters which will evolve by the chaos of life and its evolution. This is the highest meaning and greatest goal of agency.

    As for the idea that God created us in his image, there are many interpretations of what that image is. It does not have to be physical. It may be that God appears to us in a familiar way so that we will be believing.

    An allegory is a story which teaches. Myths may or may not teach. Almost everything we understand to be scripture is allegorical in nature because it is only a hint of the reality behind that story. We insist on taking the allegory literally which is the wrong way to do it. It is wrong because we end up fighting (hurting and killing) over these details instead of growing with more insight with the discussion.

  144. M J #140

    I cannot say if it is the only way. He is God. But it makes the most sense and is the only logical way about bringing about the complexity we can now observe.

    I’m not positive what you mean by your other question. I am thinking your saying something along the lines that Hugh Nibley addressed, accepting all of evolution as true, but when it came down to human evolution God simply stopped other hominid creatures and placed humans on the Earth in their stead. I don’t think this works but is just a form of intelligent design or God of the Gaps. Why would he change his process? I don’t see any reason for a literal Adam and Eve story. It has wonderful and important meaning behind it but does nothing for me being a literal story.

  145. RW,

    Thanks for illustrating my point about the sliding slope of metaphorical meaning. What, if anything, does God look like? The image includes the material body but also includes our mental and moral capacities.

  146. As I have already said if we ditch the idea of God as the literal father of a literal Adam & Eve and if we ditch the notion that they couldn’t procreate until after the fall (by making them allegorical or denying them outright) then the only thing that is distinctive to LDS theistic evolutuon is that this random process resulted in beings that surprising look like God. Of course, we can remove this final surprise by turning the idea that God has a body into a religious myth also. Too much theological revisionism to call the resulting position ‘mormonism’ though.

    What no one has addressed is why evolution rules out the idea that God, our Heavenly Father and his creative compansion (‘Let us…’) couldn’t create human life in a way akin to how we usually do – by means of procreation. That is closer to a way to have your cake and eat it too.

  147. “this random process resulted in beings that surprising look like God.”

    I mentioned convergent evolution in comment 49. The concept is this: different life forms placed in similar environments eventually evolve into forms that appear almost identical; one of the best examples is the similarities between many marsupials (marsupial mice, marsupial flying squirrels, etc.) and non-marsupials. Another example: cactus in N. America and the Old World. Not at all related based on evolution, but they look and act very similar. That might be an answer for why we are “beings that surprising (sic) look like God.”

  148. it's a series of tubes says:

    If this is the case, God will NOT intervene in the life progress of this planet because He will want to discover the new life forms and patterns which will evolve by the chaos of life and its evolution. This is the highest meaning and greatest goal of agency.

    Ah, God the perennial student. Love that one. Not that the Bible, the BOM, or modern prophets have anything to say to the contrary.

  149. Steve Evans says:

    Sigh. MJ, we’ve given you ample warnings in the past about being too strident in your comments, representing your opinion as fact, etc. Spouting Adam-God theory and stating as fact that human evolution is inconsistent with the gospel will not earn you any friends but will, however, result in your inability to make future comments here.

    -Your friendly neighborhood admin

  150. Steve Evans says:

    That said, MJ, you’ve been far easier to deal with on this thread than on previous threads, and I appreciate it.

  151. In many ways modern man is a weaker model than early man. His gene pool now contains things that would have been taken out by Natural Selection. Man’s “evolution” is now a cultural one that can protect the weak and kill the strong (warriors).
    What is Neanderthal? Pre-Adam__post Adam? We know he had bural rituals, so he some ideas or concerns about death and after death. He put flowers in the graves that shows some kind of love(?) Who was he?

  152. Steve Evans says:

    Bob, what you’re describing is a cultural shift, not an evolution. Evolutionary processes take place over thousands and thousands of years, periods of time far longer than recorded history.

  153. #153: Steve,
    I am using a 50,000 to 100,000 year timeline for “Humans” having culture. Not much “physical” Evolution for about 30,000 years(?)

  154. Funny I thought I was being fairly ecumenical. Don’t believe in adam god theory. No need to warn me again – this is not the place for me.

  155. “Stating as fact that human evolution is inconsistent with the gospel will…result in your inability to make future comments here”. Yet many church leaders who have spoken on the subject have made exactly this assertion… are they not allowed a voice in this debate? Is the anti-orthodoxy filter here at BCC really that tight? Steve this threat smacks of quasi-ecclesiastical abuse.

  156. Steve Evans says:

    First, it’s not a threat. It’s administration of the blog.

    Second, my comments are directed at tone more than content. I am focused on everyone getting along and being super-nice to each other, as if this were a real-world conversation. Church leaders are of course allowed a voice in this debate, should they decide to chime in.

    Third, “anti-orthodoxy filter”? Really?

    Fourth, “quasi-ecclesiastical abuse”? Don’t be silly. There’s nothing ecclesiastical to this abuse at all.

  157. #87 “I think Adam represents our move from being in God’s presence in the pre-mortal life to our experiencing physical bodies”

    I think you are very close. I once ended a 3-day fast at the temple, so the endowment had an unusual lucid aspect to it. In particular, when Adam was to open his eyes for the first time. Like there was this huge collective excitement in the spirit world, after so much waiting the special moment was here and we could hardly contain ourselves. It was just the biggest thing ever.

    So even if the creation story is metaphorical, it doesn’t really matter. There wasn’t Adam and then there was. We have our bodies, and that’s what matters.

  158. I believe that the current champion of the convergent-evolution-resulting-in-hominids theory is Simon Conway Morris, right? I read one of his articles (he’s a great biologist but not a great writer) and he seems to think that wherever evolution takes place, hominids are in one way or another inevitable due to the laws of physics constraining evolution. For instance, there is really only one way to create a functional eye: you need a lens that focuses light on a light-sensitive system of cells, etc. So wherever in the universe any organisms evolve to see, there will be a similar apparatus involved. I just looked him up again and I believe I’m right. There are biologists who disagree of course (I’m noting Gould in what I’m reading), but it’s one idea anyway. So does this mean Star Trek is right… everyone in the galaxy is identical (and speaks English) except for various ridges and colors on their faces?

  159. Syphax,
    I think it’s likely that quite a few of them are humanoid in shape, although probably not as similar to us as most of the Star Trek races (and certainly not genetically similar, so interbreeding would be completely out of the picture).

  160. “and certainly not genetically similar, so interbreeding would be completely out of the picture”

    Well what’s the point then.

  161. #159: Syphax,
    There are many cases of interbreeding on Star Trek. Three of the main characters are mixed.
    We see interbreeding between some Species on earth.
    There are also many kinds of “eyes” or “light-sensitive system of cells”.

  162. #65: Homo neanderthalis is not ancestral to homo sapiens, for the most part. They were two parallel branches from a common homonid ancestor, with overlapping timelines. The neanderthals went extinct probably BECAUSE of competition with homo sapiens. Recent genomic research has shown SOME interbreeding in non-African lineages of Homo Sapiens, with Homo Neaderthalis contributing no more than like 4% (if I remember right) of the Homo Sapiens genome. (0% in African lineages, showing that the mixing occurerd after the exodus from Africa.)

  163. Nelson Chung says:

    More plausible would be that Adam was the chief of the first group of homo sapiens. Hammurabi, the Mesopotamian king, shares a lot of the same imagery as Adam. Hammurabi was glorifying God by gardening (as Adam was commanded to do). And to be “raised from the dust” is a Biblical coronation motif.

  164. I like what Parley P. Pratt wrote in his book “Key to the Science of Theology”, to quote him:

    “Earth, its mineral, vegatable, and animal wealth, its paradise prepared, down comes from yonder world on high, a son of God with his beloved spouse. And thus a colony from heaven, it may be from the sun, is transplanted on our soil… In after years, when Paradise was lost by sin; when man was driven from the face of his Heavenly Father, to toil and droop and die; when heaven was ceiled from view and when with few exceptions, man was no longer counted worthy to retain the knowledge of his heavenly origin, then darkness veiled the past and future from the heathen mind, and man neither knew himself, from whence he came, nor whither he was bound. At length Moses came, who know his God, and would have fain have led mankind to know him too, and see him face to face. But they could not receive his heavenly laws of bide his presence. thus the holy man was forced again to veil the past in mystery and, in the beginning of history, assign to man an earthly origin… Thus, parents still would fain conceal from budding manhood the mysteries of procreation, or the sources of life’s ever-flowing river, by relationg some childish tale of new-born life, engendered in the hollow trunk of some old tree or springing with spontaneous gowth, like mushrooms, from out the heaps of rubbish. O man! When wilt thou cease to be a child in knowledge?”

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