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Sunday, May 22, 2005

No death versus eating fruit, before the fall

A friend with whom I don't always agree but who is willing to comment on my articles anyway, has asked:  "Did Adam and Eve's hair and finger nails grow?  If so, this is due to the death of cells in the body."

Others have asked similarly, If there was no death before the fall, how was it that Adam, Eve and the animals were eating herbs and seeds?  Did Adam and Eve even have hair, nails, and skin?  If there was no reproduction before the fall, where did fruits and seeds come from?  The following verses from Genesis have been quoted in this context:

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so."  (Gen 1:29-30.)

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."  (Gen. 2:16-17.)

In their book, Evolution and Mormonism, Stephens and Meldrum have elaborated on these questions:

"There is no way the fruit could have been eaten and still remained in the same state in which it was created.... If there was no procreation or death before the Fall, what was the source and fate of the fruit (the reproductive organs of trees) of which Adam and Eve freely ate?"  (Trent D. Stephens and D. Jeffrey Meldrum, Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001, 135, 144.)

"Many people, including some Mormons, believe that there was no reproduction or death of anything, including plants and animals, until after the Fall.  How can plants form seeds or fruit without reproduction?  How could Adam and Eve eat these seeds and fruit in the garden if there was no death of the cells making up the seeds or fruit?"  (Ibid., 171.)

"Were all beasts and fowls plant-eaters before the Fall?  Plants are also living; what about their death before the Fall?  If all animals ate plants, the anatomy and physiology of some animals must have changed drastically afterwards.  For example, a lion's intestinal tract is only about ten feet long and is well-suited for digesting and absorbing the high-protein nutrients of meat.  By contrast, a cow's intestinal tract is nearly sixty feet long and is well-suited for the long, slow process of fermenting and digesting the relatively low levels of nutrients in grasses and hay.  A lion fed only grass and hay will soon die of starvation."  (Ibid., 173.)

What about the lion after the Second Coming?

"The lion shall eat straw like the ox"  (Isa. 11:7).

"The lion shall eat straw like the bullock"  (Isa. 65:25).

"The lion shall eat straw like the ox"  (2 Ne. 21:7).

"The lion shall eat straw like the ox"  (2 Ne. 30:13).

Is this any more difficult to accept than that the lion ate straw like the ox before the fall?

No death during the millennium

It seems to me the issues raised here would apply equally to the future state of the earth—for example, after the Second Coming of Christ when the earth and everything on it will be changed.  Immortal beings will mingle with mortal men.  Righteous men will not "sleep in the dust" but will be changed from mortality to immortality in the "twinkling of an eye" (D&C 43:32; D&C 63:49–51; D&C 101:30–31).  Will these immortal men and women who live on earth during the millennium have hair, nails, or even skin?

Conclusions drawn from the existence of fruits and seeds prior to the fall and conclusions drawn from the eating of herbs and seeds prior to the fall—these conclusions are meaningless unless you can say positively beforehand that all of the natural processes of life and death were exactly the same then as now.  But that makes your logic circular because that is the very thing you are trying to prove.

No death in the celestial kingdom

And what about heaven?  The prophet Amulek explained that resurrected beings "can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption."  (Alma 11:45; italics added.)

"In the celestial glory, we are told, 'God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.' (Rev. 21:4.)"  (James E. Faust, "Spiritual Healing," Ensign, May 1992, 8.)

In other words, there is no death in the celestial kingdom.

Does God eat?

So what about God?  Does God eat?  If so, all of the above questions apply just as well to God and the celestial kingdom as they do to the pre-Fall earth.  The following is a short excerpt taken from a book that was very popular among missionaries when I served my mission back in the mid-1960s:

The Worship of False Gods

The great sin of the ages has been the worship of false gods, hence the first of the ten commandments written by God himself upon the tablets of stone amid the thunder and lightning of Sinai:  "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me."  (Exodus 20:3.)

When Moses led the children of Israel to the promised land, he told them that they should be, in coming generations, scattered among the heathen nations:  "And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell."  (Deuteronomy 4:28. Italics added.) Then Moses promised them that "in the latter days" when they were in tribulation, if they would seek after the Lord their God with all their hearts and with all their souls, they would find him.  (See Deuteronomy 4:29-30.)

Could the gods made by the hands of man, taught and worshiped by the Christian churches of the world at the time Joseph Smith received his glorious vision, see or hear or eat or smell?  (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work And A Wonder, 12-13; italics in original; bold emphasis added.)

Robert L. Millet is dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University.  He gives us this thought:

"Unlike so many in the religious world, the Latter-day Saints anticipate celestial life on a material world.  Elder Orson Pratt eloquently and powerfully made this point as follows:  'A Saint who is one in deed and truth, does not look for an immaterial heaven, but he expects a heaven with lands, houses, cities, vegetation, rivers, and animals; with thrones, temples, palaces, kings, princes, priests, and angels; with food, raiment, musical instruments, etc., all of which are material.  Indeed, the Saints' heaven is a redeemed, glorified, celestial material creation, inhabited by glorified material beings, male and female, organized into families, embracing all the relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children, where sorrow, crying, pain, and death will be known no more.  Or to speak still more definitely, this earth, when glorified, is the Saints' eternal heaven.  On it they expect to live, with body, parts, and holy passions; on it they expect to move and have their being; to eat, drink, converse, worship, sing, play on musical instruments, engage in joyful, innocent, social amusements, visit neighboring towns and neighboring worlds; indeed, matter and its qualities and properties are the only beings or things with which they expect to associate....

" 'Materiality is indelibly stamped upon the very heaven of heavens, upon all the eternal creations; it is the very essence of all existence.' (Masterful Discourses and Writings of Orson Pratt (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962), 62-63; italics added.)"  (Robert L. Millett, "Life in the Millennium," in Watch and Be Ready: Preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994, 188; italics in original, bold emphasis added; see also Otten & Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine & Covenants, 2:342).

Elder B.H. Roberts said, "When I say that the prophet taught that the resurrection is a reality, that the relationship of husband and wife is intended to be eternal, together with all its endearing affections, I mean all that in its most literal sense.  I mean that in the life to come man will build and inhabit, eat, drink, associate and be happy with his friends; and that the power of endless increase will contribute to the power and dominion of those who attain by their righteousness unto these privileges."  (B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 1:457)

Conclusion

There must be some process by which celestial plants can provide food for celestial animals and the celestial children of God without the plants themselves dying in the sense we think of dying.  This may not be easily understood, nevertheless, "it is decreed that this earth shall become a celestialized, glorified sphere; such is the revealed word.  Science has nothing to say on the matter; it can neither refute nor prove.  But the Lord, even God, hath spoken it—and so shall it be! Amen."  (James E. Talmage, The Earth and Man, 14).

40 Comments:

Anonymous J. Stapley said...

You outline several arguments in this post. I'd like to approach two of them.

First, let's take a grain of wheat. A grain of wheat is an embryo, the same way our lives start. A grain of wheat is a life, not just a cell cast of from the mother plant, but an entirely new plant. It seems like one would have to suggest that a grain of wheat was either concieved without procreation (Jesus was - there is a scriptural precident) or that it is not a life. If it was not a life, I would seem very difficult in saying that any plant life was alive (if there is no lifer, there is no death). Do you subscribed to one or the other (or a possibility that I'm not acounting for)?

You eat the wheat embyo (i.e., grain) and it dies.

2) your parrallels to other stages in the Earth are interesting. Though people will be "twinkled" in the millenium, I don't know of anything that says other things won't die.

Though we have evidence that resurected beings can eat (the resurected Lord ate fish), I'm not sure that we can make any reliable speculation as to what is going on in the Celestial kingdom. While many of the early Brethren did believe that Celestial beings had the capacity to eat (Adam-God is predicated by it) it is also very dichotomous. Many believed in the celestial kingdom being like the Sun (things don't grow well on a sea of glass). All this to say that we just don't have anything to really show us what is going on there.

In don't see anything in the Millenium or Celestial Kingdom that clarifies your position.

5/23/2005 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jonathan said: "I'm not sure that we can make any reliable speculation as to what is going on in the Celestial kingdom."

In that case, what makes you so sure that a grain of wheat is always an embryo? Do you know what a grain of wheat is in the Terrestrial or Celestial kingdom?

5/23/2005 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Mormon tradition is to interpret the other kingdoms as being VERY similar to this world. Gary seems to be going more towards the protestant position on a number of issues. Infallibility of scriptures and prophets, young earth creationism, and a radical disconnection between reality as we see it and as God sees it. There are absolutes being presupposed all over the place. A strong distrust of science and human understanding. And so on...

I am simply unwilling to accept this kind of religion.

5/23/2005 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey said: "Mormon tradition is to interpret the other kingdoms as being VERY similar to this world."

Of course, we pick and choose, don't we. We know what a grain of wheat is but we deny eating. Mmmm. Interesting point of view.

Jonathan said: "Jesus was ... concieved without procreation." Not so!

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!"

5/23/2005 07:11:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

I guess that I am willing to accept that a baby is a baby is a baby. If something is a life here and now, I don't really have any problem with it being a life in the Garden of Eden or in the Celestial kingdom. In fact, it would seem very difficult for me to accept something as a life now that is not a life in the next. What do you think?

I admit to being pretty wary of projecting our biology onto the eternities, completely discounting vivaporous spirit birth, but I don't see any reason to discount the eternal nature of all life. Do you?

5/23/2005 07:13:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

That was either McConkie or Benson (I think Benson), I haven't the time to look it up, and while they might have believed in the procreative conception of our Lord, I reserve the right to think it is ludicrous. There is nothing remotely close to authoritative that could be difinitive on the topic; moreover, the majority of the insights we do have are tainted by Adam-God. But I digress...

5/23/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Sorry, I don't usually forget citations: Ezra Taft Benson, Come unto Christ (1983), 4.

But if you have issues with Ezra Taft Benson, how about James E. Talmage:

"That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure though mortal maternity, was of right to be called the 'Son of the Highest.' In His nature would be combined the powers of Godhood with the capacity and possibilities of mortality; and this through the ordinary operation of the fundamental law of heredity, declared of God, demonstrated by science, and admitted by philosophy, that living beings shall propagate—after their kind. The Child Jesus was to inherit the physical, mental, and spiritual traits, tendencies, and powers that characterized His parents—one immortal and glorified—God, the other human—woman." (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. (1973), 81.)

Or maybe you'd accept the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. And I'm quoting from a recent Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society manual:

"[Jesus Christ] is essentially greater than any and all others, by reason (1) of His seniority as the oldest or firstborn; (2) of His unique status in the flesh as the offspring of a mortal mother and of an immortal, or resurrected and glorified, Father; (3) of His selection and foreordination as the one and only Redeemer and Savior of the race; and (4) of His transcendent sinlessness." ("The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve," Improvement Era, Aug. 1916, 941–42; as quoted in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 356; see also James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. [1977], 473.)

5/23/2005 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jonathan said: "It would seem very difficult for me to accept something as a life now that is not a life in the next. What do you think?"

Terrestrial and celestial life is immortal. This earth, after it is terrestrialized and later celestialized, will be home to immortal men and women who will have hair, nails, and even skin. The grain of wheat is just like the hair, nails, and skin. Why do I have to explain it? For me, it's enough to know that it is so.

As you'll read on my sidebar, "It is one of the hallmarks of human vanity that we assume, because we cannot do something, that God cannot do it either." (Neal A. Maxwell, Even As I Am, SLC: Deseret Book, 1982, p. 63.)

5/23/2005 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

I don't want to digress too far from the topic at hand. I admit that there are many Authorities that might have believed in celestial procreation (in the physical sense). I would, however, submit that there has never been unequivical description of the mechanics of Jesus's conception. All these quotes could be interpreted to have multiple meanings, though I suspect that they actually did believe it the way you think.

As to the grain of wheat, I find our explanation a little confusing. I fully recognize God's power to do things men don't, as of yet, understand. I don't even know if a grain of wheat does exist in the eternities. I do believe that if it does, it will be alive.

Would you say the same thing about a fish embryo, dog embryo or human embtyo?

It seems quite inconsistant to me that on the one hand you are willing to project the finest details of human biology into the eternities (even the potency of our reproductive mechanics), yet you(for reasons I do not yet understand) are willing to change everything about other lifeforms.

5/24/2005 09:11:00 AM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

That should have been:

"As to the grain of wheat, I find your explanation a little confusing."

5/24/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

In this life, most hair, skin, and nail cells are dead, right? Yet, in the eternities, immortal men and women will have hair, nails, and even skin. Enlighten me.

5/24/2005 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jonathan said: "There has never been [an] unequivical description of the mechanics of Jesus's conception."

I don't know if you have any children. Assuming you do, how often and with how many people have you shared an "unequivical description of the mechanics" of your child's conception? Truly, Jonathan, the mechanics of Jesus's conception is none of anybody's business.

5/24/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

Based on what you said here about 2 Ne 2:22, is it your view that although there was no death of any life-form, the block on reproduction was unique to Adam and Eve?

5/24/2005 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Actually I accept the grains of wheat and the eating and the going to the bathroom and the sleeping. Of course we can pick and choose, but it seems that you aren't really choosing anything at all.

Your quote says nothing about procreation. Children who are born for sperm bank donation are literally the sons of the donars without there being any procreation. None of this is in violation of natural law. There are some statements, especially from the 19th century which hold that there was a literal procreative union, but this is not official doctrine and rightly so.

5/24/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

The difference between hair and a grain of wheat is is the difference between me and my son. I don't know of anyone that suggests that hair is its own soul. The hair are cells of mine that are dead. Death of a cell and death of a soul are two disparate concepts. The grain of wheat is a soul.

5/24/2005 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

Sidenote: Do we have any evidence that all life in the millenium will be immortal?

5/24/2005 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

J. Stapley,

I don't want to threadjack, but do you view pre-implanted embryos as individual souls?

If not, is that consistent with what you said about wheat?

5/24/2005 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

No, but I assume that Gary does (he may disagree). This whole dialogue would be futile if I were to approach it with the supposition that Gary engage my premises - he doesn't seem to want to go there.

While I disagree with him on many, many levels, I am trying to address the fundamental inconsistencies of the position he is taking.

In any case, if it is not a soul, it is the fruit (pun intended) of sexual reproduction and in a different class of life than those cells in my hair follicles.

5/24/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

That sounded pretty condescending. That was not my intent. Really, I'm trying (perhaps unsuccessfully) to engage the issue in way that might yield a constructive dialogue. Rereading, I have probably failed.

5/24/2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

"A baby is a baby is a baby.... A grain of wheat is an embryo.... Would you say the same thing about a fish embryo, dog embryo or human embryo?" —Jonathan

"Is it your view that although there was no death of any life-form, the block on reproduction was unique to Adam and Eve? —Jared

"Children who are born [from] sperm bank donation are literally the sons of the donors without there being any procreation." —Jeffrey

Where did –all– of the above come from?

Truthfully, it's going to be a long, long time before I forget you three, "the three Js" (Jared, Jeffrey, and Jonathan). You have a never ending supply of new and unusual ideas about the gospel. At this point, first prize goes to test tube baby Jesus. My word, where did that come from?

The title of this blog is "No Death Before the Fall." On the sidebar is a link to a web site by the same name. I'm a computer scientist and I like to study Church stuff. The walls of my family room are lined with bookshelves. I have every Ensign ever published. I have the Improvement Era beginning in 1949 straight through until its publication ceased. I have all of the Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guides since the year I was ordained an Elder. If you ask me what the Church teaches about something, I'll see what I can find out. That's what I enjoy. But I doubt you'll persuade me to change my focus on the web to "Procreation Before the Fall" or "Human Biology in the Eternities."

Threadjack

This post is titled, "No death versus eating fruit, before the fall." It carefully makes five points, all of which have either been callously tossed aside or completely ignored.

I.

At the beginning of this thread, I quoted the words of a prominent LDS evolutionist saying within the context of no death before the fall that "a lion fed only grass and hay will soon die of starvation." Then I quoted four verses of scripture that say the lion will eat only "straw" (or possibly grass and hay?) after the Second Coming. I realize you can't be held responsible for what someone else said, but my point is simple: We just don't know. And if you knew, I'm sure you'd have told me all about it by now.

We just don't know how the lion, whose "intestinal tract is only about ten feet long and is well-suited for digesting and absorbing the high-protein nutrients of meat" will be able to live eating "straw like the ox" (Isa. 11:7, 65:25, 2 21:7, 30:13). Scientifically, it is inexplicable. Yet there is no difference between its plausibility before the fall and after the Second Coming!

Number of comments about the lions? Zero.

II.

At the beginning of this thread, I quoted Jeffrey and others who claim Adam's (and Eve's) hair, nails, and even skin prove there was death before the fall. I asked whether, "after the Second Coming of Christ [when] immortal beings will mingle with mortal men, ... these immortal men and women who live on earth during the millennium [will] have hair, nails, or even skin?" I may have assumed too much by not trying to prove from scripture and the words of Latter-day prophets that immortal beings have hair, nails, and skin. However, since no one has yet challenged me on that point, I guess I'm safe (score one small point for Gary).

If hair, nails, and skin prove death before the fall, why don't hair, nails, and skin prove death in terrestrial and celestial kingdoms? Again, my point is simple: We just don't know much about hair, nails, and skin except as we experience them in mortality. And we can't apply that knowledge to higher kingdoms.

Number of comments about hair, nails, and skin? Two in relation to a grain of wheat, zero addressing my question.

III.

I may have sneaked one past you when I claimed there is no death in the celestial kingdom. (I don't know, you may surprise me.) But in spite of the fact that Deut. 4:28 is in the Holy Bible and has been quoted by a Latter-day Apostle of the Lord as proof of the truth of the Latter-day Church, this verse of scripture was just scoffed at and tossed aside. You may be interested to know that four times in general conference, this same Apostle quoted the same verse to make the same point (see Ensign, May 1974, 117; Ensign, Jan. 1973, 111; Ensign, July 1973, 78; and Ensign, July 1972, 116.) Furthermore, he also quoted it in an article in the Church's magazine for youth (see New Era, Feb. 1974, 38.)

Therefore, I am comfortable believing and teaching that, according to this apparently translated sufficiently correctly Bible verse, the God of Israel sees, hears, eats, and smells.

The dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, in a 1994 Deseret Book compilation, concurs. But because he uses the eloquent and powerful words of Elder Orson Pratt, he is disqualified (as is Elder B.H. Roberts) for being one of "the early Brethren."

Number of comments about Deut. 4:28? Zero.

Number of comments dismissing the whole question on account of "the early Brethren." One.

IV.

At the beginning of this thread I argued that the eating-fruits-and-seeds equals death-before-the-fall argument is circular anyway: "Conclusions drawn from the existence of fruits and seeds prior to the fall and conclusions drawn from the eating of herbs and seeds prior to the fall—these conclusions are meaningless unless you can say positively beforehand that all of the natural processes of life and death were exactly the same then as now. But that makes your logic circular because that is the very thing you are trying to prove."

Number of comments about this circular logic? Zero.

V.

And finally, my concluding statement was written by Elder James E. Talmage, darling of the LDS evolutionists. It is taken from his talk The Earth and Man, the most-often-cited-talk-by-an-Apostle among LDS evolutionists. According to Elder Talmage, on some things "science has nothing to say"!

Number of comments about whether or not science is ever in the dark about anything? Zero.

Stick around and keep commenting

I'm not asking any of you to go away. I'm not asking you to keep your theories to yourselves. I do feel that none of the five arguments addressed in my original post have been dealt with up to this point. And remember, the best comments in my view are the ones that come with published Church sources. Logic that argues against what Church leaders teach are interesting but of secondary interest to me.

I'm sorry if this sounded harsh. I'm actually enjoying the discussions. My wife thinks I'm enjoying it too much. She's looking for a BA group (bloggerholics anonymous). Do you know of one?

5/24/2005 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Okay Gary,

First of all, I only mentioned the 'test tube' Jesus as you call it, to show that there are other ways which Jesus can be the literal Son of God without God having sexual relations with Mary. It is the opening of possibilities like these that are allowing members to stop believing this. Now, on to your points:

1. To say that the lion as we know it will eat straw is absurd. We can say that an animal very similar to a lion will eat straw, but this will not be much like lions as we know them. Beside that, perhaps it would be a bit more responsible if we interpreted those verses as being allegorical, in that they are intended to convey the peace which will exist during the millennium. So much else of what Isaiah said is obviously allegorical, especially with regards to the overthrow of nations and the millennium. Why should we hold out for the more absurd ideas as being literal?

2. I believe that there will be dead cells, consituting nails and hair in the celestial kingdoms. Does this open up the possibility of death in the celestial kingdom? It might, but there is a difference between having dead cells and a dead person. My point is that we cannot hold out for no death whatsoever. Of course, all this also depends on how we define 'life' and 'death'. Once we define one, we define the other I think most of us would agree. Strictly speaking, the best definition we have, scientifically speaking, comes from Kauffman: Life is a "self-reproducing system able to perform at least one thermodynamic work cycle." Are we willing to say that absolutely none of those systems will cease to perform their work cycles in the celestial kingdom? I don't think anybody would be willing to hold out for that. Therefore, everybody probably believes in death to a certain extent, both before the fall and in the celestial kingdom. Everybody. Now how vast death reigns in such existences is another question, and will probably be answered differently by every person. Is it just me, or does this not present a serious challenge to your entire premise?

3. This point has already been addressed. The gods will eat (though I do interpret this verse as being less than totally literal), and sleep and the whole nine yards. Does this mean death in the C.K.? Yes, to a certain extent. To deny this would be absolutely absurd I would think that such a person who disagrees with this has an immense burden of proof on their shoulders before anybody should take them seriously.

4. Now to sustain anything other than the 'circular logic' one must either accept a) plants were not alive before they were eaten, or b) they stayed alive after being eaten. As I said, unless we are willing to throw the entire garden story in the trash since is falsely portrays an existence which is very similar to ours, we simply must accept the circular logic. Besides, the argument is hardly circular. There are immense amounts of evidence which suggest that there has been death on the earth for some time, and that biologically speaking, plants do live when they grow and die when they are eaten. We are not assuming anything about death on the earth when we come to this conclusion. To be honest, the 'circular logic' accusation seems a bit like clutching at straws.

5. Elder Talmage is right. But so what? There are an awful lot of things about which science has a lot to say, and all of these things that you have brought up are those very things. I simply cannot overstate how un-Mormon your total distrust of science is.

P.S. my wife doesn't enjoy how much time I spend with my new friends as opposed to her either. That's why I have to do it at school usually.

5/25/2005 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Getting divorced because of blogging: priceless.

5/25/2005 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared: My wife and I have been married 36 years. We're a long way from divorce.

5/25/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Don't worry Jared, I got the joke.

5/25/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

Jeff got it, but for your benefit, it was a parody of the Mastercard commercials on TV, playing off your post where you make a statment and then write, "zero."

Made-up example:

Baseball tickets: $100
Hot Dogs: $5
Face-paint: $7
Seeing your team win: priceless

5/25/2005 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

I've seen the commercial and I "got" it. I just wanted to clarify the status of things at home.:)

5/25/2005 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

I agree gretly with what Jeffrey said. He is right that a deffinition of life (and death) is thouroughly important. Hence the grain of wheat. While you may feel comfortable saying that hair is made out of something other than dead cells in the Garden, I would imagine that you would have a harder time saying that a living soul in this life would not be a living soul in the garden.

You say: "We just don't know much about hair, nails, and skin except as we experience them in mortality. And we can't apply that knowledge to higher kingdoms" (I would say the same thing about eating, sleeping, and procreating). As it relates to Deutoronomy, I would say that I reject its implementation as a proof text and will (as time permits) engage a more appropriate exegesis.

5/25/2005 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

BTW Carl,

I put up a post over at both M.&E. and I.nM.D. which you can address with a number of posts. If you can answer some of the things I put forth their to anybody's satisfaction I think this would be jumping over a huge hurdle.

5/25/2005 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Carl?

And which post are we talking about at M&E?

5/25/2005 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jonathan: I agree, we need a definition of death.

5/25/2005 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Dang it! I keep confusing you, Gary, with another person who used to comment with us over at M&E. I'm sure Jared has seen me make this mistake more than once and been ammused by it. In fact, I think that I might have even called you carl in the post below as well.

The post is here:

http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/05/mormons-evolution-young-earth.html

My most humble apologies.

As to death, perhaps it would be better if we defined immortality in terms of the person as a whole. This may not be strong enough for some people though since such a view allows no small amount of death in it.

5/25/2005 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

The issues here easily multiply. What is life? What is death? What will be resurrected.

It seems to me that Mormons were ahead of most of Christianity in teaching, though it is not a major point, that animals have spirits and that they will be resurrected. Some think that every single form of life on this planet will be resurrected. This leads to questions regarding single-celled organisms, etc.

I think I remember one of Truman Madsen, on one of his tapes about Joseph Smith, saying that Joseph taught that anything that had sense enough to move when you put your finger next to it would be resurrected.

My own opinion is that anything that has a capacity to experience joy (having joy in fulfilling the measure of its creation) will be resurrected. I think this would screen out such things as intestinal parasites. (Some might accuse me of denying the resurrection to life forms, which is silly because I have no control over the resurrection. It's my opinion.)

Why is this relevant to the discussion at hand? My reasoning is that if there are life-forms that will not be resurrected, then they need not be accounted for in the Fall.

Yes, I know that Elder McConkie says all forms of life--but if we are to avoid absurdities dealing with our own cells, bacteria, etc, the line must be drawn somewhere--why not at life-forms that are capable of experiencing some degree of joy?

How do I know a jellyfish doesn't experience joy? I don't. My assumption is that it takes some amount of brain-power to have joy, and unless I'm mistaken, jellyfish don't have brains.

5/25/2005 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

Jared - indeed! I haven't run the calculations; however, I imagine that if we were to calculate the mass of bacteria that have lived and died even in the last 6,000 years we would get a ridiculously large ball of slime. If I had to ballpark it, I would say somewhere on the magnitude of the size of the earth.

That's allot of celestial E. coli!

5/25/2005 05:53:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

I also have to admit, without a desire to thread-jack, that this is where Jeffrey's ideas on eternal progression come in mighty handy.

5/25/2005 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared: You've convinced me of the need for a post on death. What is it? What is life? What will be resurrected?

5/26/2005 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

What follows is a conversation between Jeffrey, Jonathan, and Gary. All words attributed to Jeffrey and Jonathan are quoted from recent comments on this thread. All words attributed to Gary are mine (big smile!).

     Jeffrey: I only mentioned the 'test tube' Jesus as you call it, to show that there are other ways which Jesus can be the literal Son of God without God having sexual relations with Mary.

     Gary: There are always "other ways" that can be imagined to explain how things happen. That's called Science Fiction. But imagination isn't the question. The question is what has God revealed about how it happened. My sources speak for themselves and you haven't brought forth any sources.

     Jeffrey: To say that the lion as we know it will eat straw is absurd. We can say that an animal very similar to a lion will eat straw, but this will not be much like lions as we know them.

     Gary: You are one hundred percent correct. You finally understand what I've been trying to say all along! The reason that they "will not be much like lions as we know them" is that they will not be telestial lions. They will be terrestrial lions!

     Jeffrey: It would be a bit more responsible if we interpreted those verses as being allegorical, in that they are intended to convey the peace which will exist during the millennium.

     Gary: Any verse of scripture can be interpreted "as being allegorical" and occasionally the apostles and prophets identify verses that should be interpreted as allegorical. However, forcing allegorical interpretations because of scientific opinions is an option most Latter-day Saints don't take.

     Jeffrey: Why should we hold out for the more absurd ideas as being literal?

     Gary: Because the image of lions tearing apart other animals for food is totally out of harmony with the image of the "the peace which will exist during the millennium."

     Jeffrey: I believe that there will be dead cells, consituting nails and hair in the celestial kingdoms. Does this open up the possibility of death in the celestial kingdom? It might, but there is a difference between having dead cells and a dead person. My point is that we cannot hold out for no death whatsoever. Of course, all this also depends on how we define 'life' and 'death'. Once we define one, we define the other I think most of us would agree.

     Gary: I agree, we need a definition of death. And you are right, once we can agree on a definition of death, it will be easier to determine whether or not there was death before the fall. I am working on a post that will address this.

     Jonathan: You may feel comfortable saying that hair is made out of something other than dead cells in the Garden.

     Gary: Your comment underscores the need to define death.

     Jeffrey: The gods will eat.... Does this mean death in the C.K.? Yes, to a certain extent.

     Gary: Whether or not eating in the celestial kingdom equates to death in the celestial kingdom depends on our definition of death. Again, I am working on a post that will address this problem. Watch for it.

     Jeffrey: The argument is hardly circular. There are immense amounts of evidence which suggest that there has been death on the earth for some time.

     Gary: Hauling in new evidence doesn't address the circular nature of the previous argument. It merely changes the subject. In order to discuss the fruits-seeds-herbs question (as argued from Gen 1:29-30, 2:16-17), one must assume that current conditions were in place before the fall. That is circular because it is the conditions before the fall that are at issue.

     Jeffrey: I simply cannot overstate how un-Mormon your total distrust of science is.

     Gary: There are a lot of words that would work better than un-Mormon. How can my thesis be un-Mormon when it is always supported by legitimate Latter-day Saint sources? Besides, have I ever accused you of being un-Mormon?

5/26/2005 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

My question seems to have fallen by the way-side--I'd still like to know if you see the block on reproduction as applying exclusively to Adam and Eve or not.

Maybe you plan on addressing this in your life/death post.

5/26/2005 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared said: "Based on what you said here about 2 Ne 2:22, is it your view that although there was no death of any life-form, the block on reproduction was unique to Adam and Eve?"

Either you didn't notice my answer here, which was "I doubt you'll persuade me to change my focus on the web to 'Procreation Before the Fall' ", or else that just wasn't a good answer.

So now you've asked again, "I'd still like to know if you see the block on reproduction as applying exclusively to Adam and Eve or not."

I'll try to give you a better answer this time. I haven't previously given it much thought, plus (as you know) I like to stay with or at least very near what's been taught by the Lord's servants.

A quick search of my electronic library reveals this hasn't been a hot topic (actually it hasn't been a topic at all—I couldn't find a single statement that addresses your question). So, I'm stuck with 2 Nephi 2:22-23, as quoted in True to the Faith, which says "if Adam had not fallen,... [Adam and Eve] would have had no children" (p. 57). I'm satisfied for now to leave it at that.

5/26/2005 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

I didn't notice your first answer, but I appreciate your second answer.

5/27/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Gary,

I'm not trying to say that you are un-Mormon, and I wouldn't be all that offended if you called any of my ideas by that label either. After all, I know how un-Mormon some of my ideas are as much as anybody else, but I do try to based them in a sound understanding of a Mormon view of reality, God and man.

You can quote authorities til the cows come home, but they were never willing to say that most all of the physical sciences are mislead at best. Their position was that we don't know all the details yet, but reconciliation will be made. Your position seems to be a bit more "they are wrong, our interpretation is right, and that's that."

Mormonism's rejecting ontological miracles and embracing eternal law (law which God Himself cannot break) working on eternal elements is the very hallmark of science and the reason for our fully embracing it. BYU teaches all these sciences (including evolution) not out of mere PR with the outsiders, but because they are true sciences.

Therefore, I maintain that while you and your sources are obviously Mormon (though in a sense that I am not), your boundless mistrust of science isn't very Mormon-like at all.

5/27/2005 12:00:00 PM  

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