Saturday, March 01, 2008

New Church web site and March Ensign both affirm: The condition of mortality did not exist on this earth before the Fall of Adam

It is claimed by some that the condition of mortality has existed on this earth for many millions of years.  Because mortality was already the condition outside the Garden of Eden, it is also claimed that Adam's Fall brought mortality only to himself and his family.

But that isn't what the Church teaches.  The paragraph below, for example, is found in this month's Ensign magazine and also posted on the Church's new web site about Jesus Christ.  In it, President Boyd K. Packer talks about Adam and Eve and mortality.  But he doesn't call it their mortality, he calls it the condition of mortality:

"Adam and Eve ventured forth to multiply and replenish the earth as they had been commanded to do.  The creation of their bodies in the image of God, as a separate creation, was crucial to the plan.  Their subsequent Fall was essential if the condition of mortality was to exist and the plan to proceed."  (President Boyd K. Packer, "Who Is Jesus Christ," Ensign, Mar 2008, pp.16-17; see also the Church's new web site about Jesus Christ.)

If the condition of mortality could not exist without the Fall, then it clearly did not exist before the Fall.


Anonymous Lincoln Cannon said...

Does mortality exist prior to intelligent aspiration to immortality? So far as I'm concerned, that is the Fall of Adam, as it has occurred both for the human community ("their name Adam") and for each of us as individuals ("Adam, awake and arise"). Our expectations rise to the heavens. We compare them to reality, and we fall. From there, we work with faith in Christ, compassion in communal atonement, toward eternal reconciliation of expectations and reality.

As I've mentioned here before, it seems generally unwise to appeal to ecclesiastical authorities in matters of science generally, or natural history specifically. For example, we've had one authority claim repeatedly that humans would never go to the moon. That said, there is an increasing number of LDS Church authorities with positive opinions of evolution, and I see no reason why that will change any time soon.

3/01/2008 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


Your first paragraph is interesting   But again, that isn't what the Church teaches.

Your second paragraph is puzzling.  It almost seems like you're saying that as soon as any authority says even one wrong thing, we no longer need to believe him or any other authority.  It reminds me of something Joseph Fielding Smith's grandson once said:

-------------- quote --------------
Growing up as a son of Bruce R. McConkie and a grandson of Joseph Fielding Smith had its moments.  One of the experiences that my brothers and sisters and I shared regularly was to listen to people make disparaging remarks about our father or grandfather in Sunday School or other church classes.  You could pretty well depend on the fact that if someone quoted either Elder McConkie or President Smith, that someone else would immediately respond with some kind of an insulting retort.  I don't think it bothered any of us to have someone disagree with our father or grandfather, we just couldn't understand why the disagreement seemed so mean-spirited.

One of the classic responses that is made to discredit anything Joseph Fielding Smith said is to remind everyone that he said that men would never get to the moon.  The idea being that if he said one thing that was incorrect then how can we possibly be expected to believe anything else he said.

Let me illustrate how silly this kind of thing gets. The other day a student at BYU told me that Joseph Fielding Smith was quoted in their class discussion.  Apparently what he said wasn't headed in the direction the professor wanted to go, so she simply discarded it with the standard, "Yes, but you must remember he also said that men would never get to the moon."

The student asked me how I would have responded in that situation.  It seems to me that an appropriate response might have been to ask if the professor was to be held to the same standard?  That is, if she ever said anything that proved to be incorrect should her students disregard everything else she said?  If so, she certainly did say something irresponsible in the manner by which she so lightly dismissed what President Smith said.

As to the men on the moon issue, I was present on at least one occasion when President Smith said it.  It was a Sunday dinner at our house.  My grandfather, Oscar W. McConkie, had asked President Smith if he thought the Lord would allow us to get to other worlds and communicate with the people on them.  President Smith indicated that he did not.  He reasoned that because the atonement that Christ worked out on this earth applies to all the creations of the Father, that our getting to other worlds and discovering that they had the same Savior and the same plan of salvation would dispense with the necessity of our accepting the gospel on the basis of faith.  To dramatize the point he said, "I don't even think the Lord will let men get to the moon."

I concurred with President Smith's reasoning then and do so now.  What he said, in my judgement, was right.  The illustration he used to dramatize his point has since proven to be in error.  It, however, has nothing to do with the point he was making.  To dismiss everything else he said on the basis of one faulty illustration is, I would suggest, a far greater error and may frankly be grounds to question whether those saying it deserve credence, not whether Joseph Fielding Smith does.  (Joseph Fielding McConkie, "On Second Thought: Growing up as a son of Bruce R. McConkie," as quoted by John W. Redelfs on his blog The Iron Rod, Aug 19, 2005.)
-------------- end quote --------------

Because Neil Armstrong walked on the moon you've concluded that apostles may no longer speak with authority about scientific things.  Your logic lacks credence.

And by the way, the number of Church authorities who express positive opinions about evolution in Church publications is currently zero.

3/02/2008 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Lincoln Cannon said...

R Gary, the most important teachings of the LDS Church are explicitly offered in symbols. You and I evidently interpret them differently. I understand that you believe your interpretation is correct, and I'm sure you recognize that I'm not expressing thoughts that I consider to be incorrect.

I was not clear enough regarding my perspective on the scientific authority of ecclesiastical leaders. I am not suggesting that a single mistake negates their scientific authority. Actually, I am claiming that they do not have any extraordinary scientific authority in the first place, whether they make a mistake or not. Such is not their calling, and generally is not their background. Our ecclesiastical leaders have been called to act as special witnesses of Christ, and I sustain them in that role. I do not sustain them as the best scientists, musicians, engineers, dancers, lawyers, doctors or designers in the world -- except to the extent that they happen to demonstrate excellence in areas that are not necessarily related to their ecclesiastical roles.

Finally, although I disagree with your assessment of the content of LDS Church publications, please note that I wasn't referring to publications. I was referring to my personal experience over the years, which clearly indicates to me increasing acceptance of evolution among both our leaders and the general membership of the LDS Church.

3/02/2008 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger PhysicsGuy said...

Lincoln said, "...it seems generally unwise to appeal to ecclesiastical authorities in matters of science generally, or natural history specifically."

I would add that is seems generally unwise to appeal to scientific authorities in matters of religion.

Theoretical science is just making educated guesses about things based on scientist's assumptions and perspective on life, which may or may not be correct.

3/02/2008 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


I'm still puzzled by your selective acceptance of apostolic counsel.

It should be self-evident among Latter-day Saints that God has given apostles and prophets "for the edifying of the body of Christ."  (Eph. 4:12.)  Their ministry is to see that "we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine."  (Eph. 4:14.)  President Gordon B. Hinckley stated in general conference that the apostles and prophets are called to teach and interpret doctrine:

"The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles, called and ordained to hold the keys of the priesthood, have the authority and responsibility to govern the Church, to administer its ordinances, to expound its doctrine, and to establish and maintain its practices."  (Ensign, May 1994, p.54; emphasis added.)

Twice the Lord tells the elders of the Church to say "none other things" than that which the apostles and prophets teach.  (D&C 52:9, 36.)  The Encyclopedia of Mormonism explains that members of First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are appointed to interpret doctrine:

"Especially authoritative are the official pronouncements of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who are sustained by Church members as 'prophets, seers, and revelators.' Their writings and addresses—particularly in general conference—are cited frequently as guides for living and for authoritative interpretation of doctrine."  (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1281.)

3/03/2008 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

A question for LDS evolutionists:  Where and when has the Church published an apostolic statement endorsing the idea that organic evolution explains the origin of man?

3/03/2008 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger richard Sherlock said...

The origin of the human body is a complex question.
Darwinism cant expalin all of it. Darwinism in full surely is incompatible with serious Christianity or Mormonism but I fail to see how no death before the fall is likewise crucial. After all John A widtsoe in the ERA in 1948 and BH Roberts in The Way, The Truth, The Life accepted death before the fall Roberts book has now been published in full by BYU. Furthermore in 1931 the Church explicitly refused to take a stand on this issue

3/06/2008 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


Thanks for visiting.  I agree with you about Elders Widtsoe and Roberts, and their individual views on death before the fall — I myself have never argued that all Apostles and Prophets throughout the history of the Latter-day Church have taught a paradisiacal creation with no death before the fall.  You are also correct that the 1931 First Presidency was neutral on death before the fall.

But I've noticed that the most recent seven Church Presidents and thirty two Apostles have demonstrated a remarkable unity in their public comments about evolution and no death before the fall.

3/06/2008 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger richard Sherlock said...

then why is ndbf so important in your view. It does not seem to be "the Church's official position" Why in your view is it so important that you would say that Widtsoe is misstaken

3/07/2008 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger richard Sherlock said...

Lets break the whole discussion down into 4 segments 1. age of the earth 2. no death before the fall 3. descent from simple to complex in the development of life 4. evolution as a random process pretty much the way Darwin said it was. The Chuch has never taken a position on 1, 2 or 3 . Eminent leaders can be found who accepted an ancient earth but not evolution e.g. Penrose and Talmage The Church has never held that 2 is necessary e.g. Widtsoe and Roberts 3. At least with respect to life except humans the Church has never taken a position. The problem comes with 4 and I do not think any serious Christian can accept 4

3/07/2008 01:42:00 PM  

<< Home