Wanton Speculation on Adam, Eve, and the First Life on Earth

Other than the declaration that "Adam was the first man of all men", very little has been revealed to LDS Prophets about whether or not the theory of evolution is correct.  It has been promised that such truth will come in due time.  Latter-day Saints are encouraged, however, to accept truth from wherever it may come.  In that spirit, allow me to wantonly speculate on how religious and scientific truths may one day come into harmony.

Feel free to speculate along with me.

Updated May 10, 2010: Might there have been death before the fall?  YES! There might have...

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Could other hominids (i.e. human or human-like figures) have pre-dated Adam and Eve? Animals most certainly did, so why could not hominids have?  I think it's entirely likely that they did, given the fact that the earth-time equivalent of the age that it took the Gods to create the earth is between 4 billion and 5 billion years.

First a disclaimer: I am speculating. I fully expect that the truth will some day be known, whether through scientifically proven evidence or revelation from God it is all the same to me.  The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states that:
32 Yea, verily I say unto you, in that aday when the Lord shall come, he shall breveal all things—

33 Things which have passed, and ahidden things which no man knew, things of the bearth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof— 

34 Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven. 
The one other parameter for (at least my portion of) this discussion is this statement by the First Presidency of the LDS Church:
It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declared that Adam was “the first man of all men” (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race.

Notice what this does not say. It does not say that there were no cave men. It just says, I think, that Adam did not descend from them.  There could have been monkeys-becoming-apes-becoming-hominids-becoming cave men for aeons before Adam came on the scene. That doesn't shake my faith. But what about this? The Book of Moses in the LDS Pearl of Great Price says this:
7 And I, the Lord God, formed man from the adust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the bbreath of life; and cman became a living dsoul, the efirst flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created;...
It says that Adam became the "first flesh".  Scary?  Faith shaking?  No.  That can't mean that Adam was created before all the animals, because every version of the creation story that we possess places Adam as the final creation before God rested.  But does it mean that he was the first hominid?

Update May 10, 2010: Death Before the Fall of Adam?
There is clear evidence of evolution and of life prior to the time that Adam was on the earth. If we religionists hold to the theory that such could not have been the case, we create for ourselves a very tenuous position. Elder James E. Talmage noted that fossilized remains of plants and animals "lived and died, age after age, while the earth was yet unfit for human habitation." While Adam and Eve occupied the Garden of Eden, the earth existed in an elevated state of glory which we refer to as a terrestrial state, wherein everything was immortal. When they were cast out of the Garden, the earth was transformed to a telestial state, wherein things became mortal, or in other words, where Adam and Eve and all other living things could experience death. It is certainly not beyond the stretch of logical imagination that if God could transform the earth from a terrestrial to a telestial (mortal) state that he could have also previously transformed it in reverse. Although I have no evidence of my speculation, it is my opinion that mortality could have existed on the earth for eons of time until God found it necessary to place Adam there, at which time he caused the earth to become terrestrial or immortal. During the earth's pre-terrestrial state, all kinds of life, including dinosaurs and other extinct species, could have lived and died.

Hugh Nibley, of his study of the creation scriptures, wrote: "The creation process as described in the Pearl of Great Price is open-ended and ongoing, entailing careful planning based on vast experience, long consultations, models, tests, and even trial runs for a complicated system requiring a vast scale of participation by the creatures concerned." As a learning laboratory, the earth did not very likely begin its existence in an terrestrial (immortal) state.


...stay tuned...more probably to come...

Comments

  1. "...the earth-time equivalent of the age that it took the Gods to create the earth is between 4 billion and 5 billion years."

    Does this mean that the LDS Church is a Polythestic Religion? If so, how then can the church claim to be a Christian faith?

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  2. JBT: LDS Doctrine teaches that it is God's work and glory to bring to pass not only our immortality (to live forever) but our eternal life (the kind of life that God lives). We are commanded in the New Testament to become perfect, like God. So yes, we believe there is more than one God, and thus yes, we are a polytheistic religion.

    Jesus Christ, a separate being from our Heavenly Father, is himself a God, so that makes "poly-" already.

    We also, however, focus on Christ as the center of our Church and religion, so that makes us--at the same time--Christian.

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  3. Based on the painting, Adam and Eve could not have been the only humans around. There must have been a third person -- a hair stylist -- that was really good at 80s hairdos.

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  4. And who would have thought that Eve shaved her legs?

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  5. Most Christian sects hold that there is but one God who has three dimensions or forms. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    If the LDS faith teaches that there are many gods, then this separates that church from other faiths who call themselves Christian.

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  6. The LDS church might be believe in more than one God-like being, but not in worshiping more than one God. Does the term polytheistic still apply?

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  7. The First Council of Nicaea declared that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one; basically because the Church at the time was divided over the contradiction that Jesus stated that He and the Father are one, yet He obviously prayed to a higher being He referred to as His "Father".

    The Nicene Creed sought to settle the matter once and for all by declaring the Trinity as one being. The Council got it part right, because they are one in purpose...but not one in that they occupy the same body/spirit/form. The LDS Church believes this argument is settled through Joseph Smith's visitation from both God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. The Father during the visit with Joseph pointed to Jesus on his right hand and said, "This is my Beloved Son; hear Him". A picture is worth a thousand words, and so in this case one moment cleared up almost two millennia of incorrect teachings.

    Believing as the LDS Church does about the separateness of the three in the Godhead does set us apart from other Christian churches because they do not accept the visitation of the Father and Jesus to Joseph Smith. However, we are still "Christian" in that we accept the divinity of Jesus Christ, that He is the Savior of mankind, and it is only through his atonement that we may repent and return to our Father in Heaven.

    Thanks, Frank, for letting me participate in this forum!

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  8. What about your "Mother in Heaven" with whom your "Father in Heaven" creates all of the little spirits in the pre-existence? Do the LDS folks worship Her as well?

    This is fascinating stuff. Thanks Frank for bringing up this topic.

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  9. Anonymous: We worship only one God, our Heavenly Father.

    JBT: We do have a mother in heaven. This is not something about which much has been revealed. The only thing I feel to say about that is that since we believe that eternal marriage is part of exaltation (Godhood), it is completely logical to think that we also have a mother in heaven. A hymn that we often sing, entitled "O My Father" has this to say:

    In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!
    Truth is reason, truth eternal Tells me I've a mother there.

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  10. Brother Nibley has dealt with this matter more clearly than anything I have ever read. I would look to him for understanding. Interesting post, thank you.

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  11. George: Do you remember which book/article that Nibley talked about this in? I have read some of his stuff, and he's probably my inspiration for daring to speculate. ;-)

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  12. I can't comment on your facebook thread, but I wanted to suggest to Laura that she read "The Seven Daughters of Eve" by Bryan Sykes, since she was interested in genetics.

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  13. My biggest snag on the idea of macro-evolution is that until Adam and Eve partake of the fruit, there was no death in the world. Now I can see that as meaning that God sort of put it "on hold" for a while (because death must have existed somewhere, and certainly before these events), but for that line of thought to work, it seems like things would have had to be going along (birth-life-death) and then a big ol' while-loop is hit until the fruit is partaken of. I've never got around the fact that death didn't exist until the fruit was partaken of, because death is vital for evolution to work.

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  14. So there is a God and Mrs. God, but the LDS folks can't worship Mrs. God. That sounds like gender discrimination to me. Is that where the patriarchal practices of the LDS church emanate from? I suppose if Mrs. God were to come to earth, she couldn't hold the priesthood either.

    Wait! I just had a revelation! If God impregnated Mary to have a Son called Jesus, then he was committing adultery because he was already married to Mrs. God. Oh my heck.

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  15. Jonathan: James E Talmage observed/opined that "fossilized remains of plants and animals "lived and died, age after age, while the earth was yet unfit for human habitation." (See my 5/10/2010 update to this article for more speculation that this thought has fueled.

    JBT: For a brief shining moment I had imagined that you sincerely cared to have an honest and respectful discussion. If, perhaps, you still do, but momentarily fell out of character, please let me know, and I'd be glad to carry on the conversation.

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  16. Ok Frank, back to a serious discussion. If Heavenly Mother exists in the LDS faith and she is in fact a true God, then why are the LDS faithful discouraged from mentioning Her let alone praying to Her or worshiping Her?

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  17. JBT: That is a good question. I often wonder that myself. I know I have a Mother in Heaven, and I can't wait to see her again. Ezra Taft Benson taught that nothing will be more surprising to us when we return to heaven than how familiar our Heavenly Father's face is to us. I fully believe the same will be able to be said about our Mother.

    I wish more were revealed about her. I'm not sure why there isn't. But someday I think we'll understand.

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  18. Why isn't our Mother in Heaven mentioned, and why don't we worship her? It is my own humble opinion that she is being protected in this way. Perhaps God the Father respects her enough to keep her from being denigrated, disrespected, spoken of in vain, and any other vile practice that man seeks to do to his God. These are my own imaginings...not doctrine.

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  19. Perhaps it is because the LDS Church is a Patriarchal organization in which women are not allowed positions of authority or allowed to make decisions for the church. It would seem to me that the best way to denigrate and disrespect Heavenly Mother(if she exists)would be to ignore her and keep her in the background. Just my opinion.

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  20. There have been recent discoveries that prove that modern man...at least in Europe, mated with Neanderthal.

    Also, if you want some good books on Earth History, BYU publishes some great ones by a great author and Geologist: Lehi Hintze.
    Geologic History of Utah and Spectacular Geology of Utah are fantastic.

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  21. B.H. Roberts included a discussion about pre-Adamites in the Melchizedek Priesthood manual which became the source of much debate. I certainly believe that God may have used evolution as a process to create man, but I'm not too worried about it. We'll find out someday. The only thing official that I know of is that the Church has taken no position on the subject of organic evolution. To say that evolution is a doctrine of the Church would be false. To say that it goes against the teachings of the church is also false.

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  22. Ryan, These recent discoveries you refer to do not prove anything , but speculate that such could have happened. Interestingly in the evolution debate is the stark lack of proof that link one species to another. where does one find the imperical data that support these theroies?

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  23. @D Gubler

    There may not be a complete trail of fossil evidence, but the genetic and physical evidence that we have a common ancestor with chimpanzees is overwhelming. The most tenable explanation is common descent.

    We share 96% of our genetic code with chimpanzees. The same is not true of our relationship to fish, etc. We have vestigial structures like tailbones and appendices. That is just scratching the surface - I highly encourage you to look into the evidence.

    That said, I have a firm conviction that we are children of God. Learning these things has not shaken that faith. In fact, I feel closer to God as I understand the creation process more clearly. You cannot stare into the sun and say it doesn't shine - that's the way I feel about the voluminous amount of data in support of evolution. People who doggedly fight against the idea have not honestly investigated the facts and evidences in support of it.

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