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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Parents of the first man, Adam

Regarding Adam's parents (i.e. the origin of man), certain bloggers (Ray, for example, here) continue to assert that the Church's official stance is, "We don't know." These bloggers seem to believe God chooses not to reveal the origin of man to Church leaders, but that He does reveal it to experts on organic evolution.

I think these bloggers have overlooked what the Church actually says:

"Man, by searching, cannot find out God. Never, unaided, will he discover the truth about the beginning of human life. The Lord must reveal Himself or remain unrevealed; and the same is true of the facts relating to the origin of Adam's race—God alone can reveal them. Some of these facts, however, are already known, and what has been made known it is our duty to receive and retain." ("The Origin of Man," Ensign, Feb 2002, p.30.)

In other words, except for what has already been revealed, no one knows.

What HAS been revealed?

It has been made known that Adam's physical body was created the same way yours and mine was. As with all men, Adam's body began life as a human embryo, a fertilized human egg.

"He [Adam] took upon him an appropriate body, the body of a man, and so became a 'living soul' [and] all who have inhabited the earth since Adam have taken bodies and become souls in like manner." (Ibid., emphasis added.)

Joseph F. Smith, who issued "The Origin of Man," taught that Adam's mother was a "woman" (an adult female human):

"Adam, our early parent, was also born of woman into this world, the same as Jesus and you and I." (Deseret News, Dec. 27, 1913.)

He further testified that Adam's physical body was begotten by our Heavenly Father:

"Our father Adam—that is, our earthly father—the progenitor of the race of man, stands at the head, being 'Michael the Archangel, the Ancient of Days',... he was not fashioned from earth like an adobe, but begotten by his Father in Heaven.

"Adam is called in the Bible 'the son of God.' (Luke 3:38.)"

(First Presidency, as quoted in James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency, 4:265-267.)

Today, the Church states officially::

"It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our heavenly Father." ("The Origin of Man," Op. Cit., italics in the original.)

Conclusion

The first man, Adam, began his physical existence as a human being. His parents were human, not animal. Beyond that, "no one knows."

29 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

If Adam's parents were human, how could Adam himself be considered the first man? Wouldn't his (human) father have more right to that title?
I'm not trying to argue any position here--I'm just confused about the apparent contradiction.

4/02/2009 06:02:00 AM  
Anonymous DB said...

Adam was born of a woman?!? It really surprises me to see that on this blog. Here's why:

Moses taught that Adam was "the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also". (Moses 3:7) How is this true of Adam had mother?

Lehi taught that before the Fall Adam and Eve could not have children and that all things would have forever remained in the state in which they were after they were created had there been no Fall. (2 Nephi 2:22-25) So Adam and Eve couldn't have children but there were other people that could??

If Adam was born of a woman then there were at least three people in the Garden of Eden. If Adam was born of a woman then one should logically assume that Eve was also born of a woman. Maybe she had the same mother as Adam; maybe a different mother. What about Adam's mother? Shouldn't one also logically assume that she had a mother as well? Maybe she was formed from the dust of the earth like the scriptures say that Adam was and then gave birth to Adam (and possibly Eve as well). Either way, according to this idea there were at least three people in the Garden of Eden and maybe more. This really complicates the whole Garden of Eden setup that appears to have been specifically designed for two people. Did anyone else partake of the forbidden fruit? What if they didn’t? What if they did? This is really messy and doesn't make much sense. Of course this would answer the age old question of whether Adam had a belly button.

4/02/2009 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mormon Heretic said...

Who created Adam's mother?

4/02/2009 07:35:00 AM  
Blogger Papa D said...

Let me add a disclaimer:

Even though it's only been a few minutes, I've taken a moment to consider this post - and I'm left with something I feel I need to say. It's a truce offer, if you will.

I agree with everything you say in this post - except how you've characterized my beliefs. If I had read this without our history, I would assume you and I see things pretty much exactly alike. Except for how we view the Garden of Eden narrative (I think), we probably are perfectly aligned in how we see things.

That's a new epiphany for me, so can we call a truce of sorts and accept each other as far more similar in this area than different? I really do think our "opposition" to each other's points of view are based on some fundamental misunderstandings of the other's position. Based on this post, I think we actually see things almost exactly alike in this area.

You are welcome on my personal blog at any time, since I rarely discuss evolution there. *grin*

Ray

4/02/2009 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Zen said...

Sometimes, I think we are a little too anxious to establish every single statement as an eternal truth of infinite validity. Whatever the truth is, we don't have the full story.

Were Adam and Eve born the old fashion-way by Heavenly Father and Mother? Or did They retrofit an existing ape?

We don't know the physical details, but the spiritual details are clear - Adam and Eve were the first here.

4/02/2009 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

--

Tim:

According to the Church's Guide to the Scriptures, Adam was "the first man created on earth." Therefore, because Adam's father was not created on this earth, He was not the "first man" as we use that term.

--

DB:

Actually, at one time or another, there were at least five (5) people in the Garden: Elohim, Jehovah, Adam, Eve, and Lucifer. Also, we are taught that "Adam walked and talked in the Garden of Eden with God, his Heavenly Father." (Chapter 4: "The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, p.33; see also Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, Apr. 1974, pp.18–19.)

Yes, Adam was "the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also" (Moses 3:7). A question about this verse came up in 1930. After researching the question for him five members of the Quorum of the Twelve reported to President Heber J. Grant as follows:

-------------- quote --------------
"As we understand it the term ' first flesh,' does not have reference to Adam as being the first living creature of the creation on the earth, but that he, through the ' fall ' became the first ' flesh,' or mortal soul. The term ' flesh ' in reference to mortal existence is of common usage. We find it so used in the scriptures. Adam having partaken of the fruit became mortal and subject to death, which was not the condition until that time. We are taught in the Temple as well as in the scriptures that man was the last creation placed upon the earth, before death was introduced. Adam was the first to partake of the change and to become subject to the flesh."

(Review Committee to President Grant, in The Truth, The Way, The Life, 2nd edition, Provo: BYU Studies, 1996, pp.292-293. George Albert Smith was chairman of the committee, and David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Stephen L. Richards, and Melvin J. Ballard were committee members.)
-------------- end quote --------------

Adam's physical mother was not mortal. Therefore, there was no flesh upon the earth when Adam was born, he himself becoming "first flesh" at the time of the Fall.

You said, "Lehi taught that before the Fall Adam and Eve could not have children." That is correct. But Lehi doesn't prove Joseph F. Smith wrong, so you might want to think this through a little more.

--

MH asks who created Adam's mother? Answer: God did.

--

Ray: I appreciate your comment. Let's go forward from here.

--

Zen: You're entitled to your opinion and yes, Adam and Eve were the first mortals on this earth.

4/02/2009 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Zen said...

Just as long as we are trying to count everyone, we might want to tentatively include Lilith as well.

That would make 6, though I seem to remember something about Adam being visited by angels....

4/02/2009 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous DB said...

Yes, of course, there were more people present in the Garden of Eden than just Adam and Eve but I think we all know that I was referring to permanent residents of the Garden and not visitors. According to the theory of Adam’s mother, there were at least three permanent residents of the Garden of Eden and perhaps more.

I have read the argument that “first flesh” means first mortal flesh and that “flesh” means mortal flesh, and I am aware that that has come from some of the General Authorities but I must disagree with that meaning because that’s not how it’s explained by Moses or Abraham. Moses clearly teaches that Adam was the first physical creation on the earth and was created from the dust of the earth; all things were created spiritually before. Abraham taught that during the six day creation period the Gods counseled about how all living things would be created and organized the earth so it would happen; afterwards, they created Adam from the dust of the earth and then all living things were created as they had counseled to do. The term flesh is also clearly used in reference to Adam and Eve’s immortal bodies prior to the Fall as in Adam’s rib being removed and his flesh being closed up, and Adam referring to Eve as “flesh of my flesh”. At least that’s how Moses and Abraham explained it (as translated by and revealed to Joseph Smith) and they’re the ones who witnessed the creation in vision.

Also, if mortality is a condition of partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil then wouldn’t Eve have become mortal first? Maybe, maybe not since it was probably more of a punished placed on the two of them for their transgression and not an automatic result of eating the fruit. The knowledge of good and evil would have been the automatic result. Just a random thought.

I believe that Lehi does disprove the idea that Adam had a mother. To quote from 2 Nephi 2:22-23:

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they {referring to all things which were created} must have remained forever, and had no end. And they {again referring to all things which were created} would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.”

This passage is the main argument behind the idea of No Death Before the Fall. The same passage also claims that there was No Birth Before the Fall.

I’ll save you the trouble of stating that I’m entitled to my own opinion but since the General Authorities (since the days of the restoration to the present) have not been in unanimous agreement on similar issues relating to the creation, I feel pretty in safe in joining the disagreement. Clearly, there have been no modern revelations to further explain what has already been revealed to Moses and Abraham, otherwise all of the General Authorities would be in agreement.

4/03/2009 07:12:00 AM  
Anonymous SteveP said...

Gary, good to see you posting! Well said. Since Homo sapiens appeared about 200,000 years ago, the first spirit child of God must have been placed in one of these human bodies long after the bodies appearance on the Earth. The first man was the first time a spirit child of God was placed in one of these bodies. Adam did come into the world just like we did. He had a human mother. Her spirit if she had one (biological machines could explain why it is said that there was not death on the Earth) was not a spirit child of God. Adam was a the first man, where man is defined as soul and body and where the soul was the first spirit that was a spirit child of God.

I couldn't agree more.

4/03/2009 06:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve EM said...

The Garden and the Fall are great metaphors for many things about the human condition and perfectly compatible with evolution as the mechanism of our creation. Hence why I’m perplexed anyone sees a conflict between faith in a Creator and evolution, the most plausible expiation for species replacement going.

4/03/2009 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

--

DB:

The word "they" in 2 Ne 2:23 means "Adam and Eve" not "all things."

George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Stephen L. Richards, and Melvin J. Ballard are a formidable group, particularly since three of the five later served as Prophet and President. And yet you disagree with what they unitedly said in 1930 about "first flesh." You also say the Book of Mormon disproves Joseph F. Smith's teachings about Adam's mother.

I just love the tired old argument that we can all believe anything we want because Church leaders haven't always been in unanimous agreement.

Perhaps you wouldn't mind pointing out which subsequent apostle disagrees with what the five apostles unanimously said about "first flesh." Maybe you could tell us which apostle believes Lehi proves Joseph F. Smith was wrong about Adam's mother. And maybe you could identify a current apostle who disagrees that 2 Ne 2:23 refers to Adam and Eve.

--

SteveP:

I'm always glad when you stop by. As you know, I follow your blog religiously.

I love to watch you squirm. On the surface, the explanation in your current comment seems to make sense. However, there are at least two problems with your theory.

First, I think a body without a spirit is like faith without works, it is dead (James 2:26) and I don't believe dead bodies could propagate for 200,000 years while God twiddled his thumbs waiting for Adam's body to come along.

Second, I don't believe any apostle or prophet has ever taught a theory like the one you've set forth here.

Would you care to enlighten us further on this?

--

Steve EM:

What can I say. We don't agree. But thanks for being civil this time. And please come again.

4/04/2009 05:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Steve EM said...

".........for 200,000 years while God twiddled his thumbs waiting for Adam's body to come along........"

Time is part of creation. G-d is independent of His creation and is thus independent of time. G-d doesn't wait for anything. He wasn't waiting as evolution populated the planet with a diversity of life, including mankind. He doesn't live a linear sequential existence as we do in mortality.

4/04/2009 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

What is a few million years to God? We read in the Book of Mormon that "time only is measured unto man," (Alma Ch. 40). Whether you think God is governed by time or not, if you're LDS you know that this Earth is not the only Earth--I'm sure God has plenty to do elsewhere, and I'm sure he doesn't look at the passage of time like we do.

4/05/2009 06:56:00 AM  
Anonymous SteveP said...

Thanks Gary. I read yours as well. Although we disagree, I've always enjoyed your respectful and thoughtful approach.

I think the difficulty for me is that I must harmonize all scripture, including the book of nature written in the physical world. I would like to see your reconstruction of genetics, fossil record, anatomy, embryology, radio carbon dating, dendrochronology, etc. You have to make no effort in a massive amount of scientific data. The day you provide those details, I'll be ready to listen to your reconstructions. As it is like you are in the position of Galelio's inquisitors saying, the scriptures say it ain't so so the sun goes around the earth. Show me how you reconstruct all of science in a different way, in light of your reading of the scriptures and I'll be ready to follow you.

4/05/2009 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

SteveP:

Please don't follow me, we are fellow servants and brothers in Christ.

Regarding the genetics, fossil record, anatomy, embryology, radio carbon dating, dendrochronology, etc., if there is one thing blogging has taught me, it is an appreciation for those who immerse themselves in the study of science, especially evolutionary biology. There is obviously a strong pull toward the prevailing theories that are used as the basis for research. And you're right, I don't understand the scientific data.

Regarding Galeleo's inquisitors, I'm a follower of, not one of, the modern apostles who have spoken out against evolution. And I'm certain they have a great deal more light and truth than did those church leaders during the long night of apostasy.

I prefer canonized books over the book of nature, and the teachings of the living prophets over the theories of men.

And I would be delighted to be your home teaching companion, or have you as my bishop, or serve with you in any other priesthood calling.

4/05/2009 11:42:00 PM  
Anonymous DB said...

No, I couldn't tell you anything about the opinions of the apostles because I don't research and keep track of those things. I just rely on scripture and personal revelation when I have questions for which the church has provided no official doctrinal answer. Can you tell us which of those quotes are from official church (or First Presidency) publications and therefore official church doctrine?

Since you believe that 2 Nephi 2:23 refers only to Adam and Eve, do you believe that following the creation and prior to the Fall that all other organisms (plant and animal) were procreating while nothing was dying?

4/06/2009 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

DB said: "I couldn't tell you anything about the opinions of the apostles because I don't research and keep track of those things."

I'm sorry,... at our house, we "give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles." (D&C 1:14.) Come back when you can do the same.

4/06/2009 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

In 2004 the First Presidency published a doctrinal guidebook aimed at youth, young single adults, and new members. It's introduction is a "Message from the First Presidency" which states: "This book is designed as a companion to your study of the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets. We encourage you to refer to it as you study and apply gospel principles. Use it as a resource when you prepare talks, teach classes, and answer questions about the Church."

According to this book, the word "they" in 2 Ne 2:23 means "Adam and Eve" not "all things."

4/06/2009 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

I have received a comment that wants to know whether other organisms (plant and animal) were procreating before the fall. Answer: I don't know and I don't care. I have no plans to change my focus on the web to "Procreation Before the Fall."

The same comment asks whether there are any apostolic quotes that are considered official Church doctrine. Answer: Official Church doctrine is found in the standard works and in formal statements of the First Presidency.

Lastly, this comment wants to know the opinions of the current Apostles on the topic of Adam having a physical mother. Answer: The above article,"Parents of the first man, Adam," quotes a formal statement of the First Presidency plus two comments by the Prophet under whose direction that formal statement was issued. I am confident that the current Apostles support the official position of the Church.

4/08/2009 06:48:00 AM  
Anonymous SteveP said...

"And I would be delighted to be your home teaching companion, or have you as my bishop, or serve with you in any other priesthood calling."

:) Me too! And I do appreciate you. You always make me think!

4/09/2009 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger PhysicsGuy said...

The topic of time has been brought up:

"G-d is independent of His creation and is thus independent of time."

"'time only is measured unto man,' (Alma Ch. 40)."

I tend to agree with both of these statements. I have always liked the proposition that before the "fall", Earth was also on God's time. At the fall, the Earth became temporal (in a literal sense) and any attempt to look before that temporal point causes all sorts of anomalous chronologies. Evolutionary theory would be modified greatly if this were true.

This proposition doesn't tend to get much traction with people (I like it), but if you are willing to throw out all physical laws by stating that there is a different temporal plane in heaven, why not throw out some evolutionary laws as well.

4/11/2009 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

My temple experience does not tell me that Adam was born of parents. It tells me that he was created by God from the elements of the earth. This is entirely consistent with the power of God and may be "natural" from a celestial creationist perspective.

Those who argue that Adam was born of parents because it was "natural" are a bit like those who claim that Jesus was conceived through mortal, natural processes. This is hogwash! We cannot understand even the smallest part of what constitutes "natural" from a celestial perspective. It is entirely conceivable that God used immmaculate conception to give rise to Jesus' conception - this may be a natural process from a celestial perspective.

Let's stop limiting God to what is natural from a mortal perspective.

4/17/2009 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Dave C.:I am sure Joseph F. Smith, Sixth President of the Church, was fully aware of the temple experience. Yet he taught that Adam was "born of woman into this world." He also said Adam "was not fashioned from earth like an adobe, but begotten by his Father in Heaven." President Smith pointed out that "Adam is called in the Bible 'the son of God.' (Luke 3:38.)"

And by the way, immaculate conception is the Roman Catholic doctrine that Mary was conceived free from original sin. It's all about Mary and original sin. But we know that none of the family of Adam are under the penalty of "original sin."

4/18/2009 01:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

Gary,

Let's be clear that Adam was not a physical descendent of God - I hope we can agree on this point because the scriptures are clear that Jesus is the ONLY begotten of the Father in the flesh.
I exercise caution when it comes to dogmatic adherence to the words of one ancient apostle or prophet when we cannot be sure if they were speaking for the Lord or not.
If JFS said that Adam was born from parents then I tend to disagree with him. When we talk about things authorities said long ago, I need to see a preponderance of evidence from several authorities saying the same thing. I have not seen several authorities claim that Adam was born. Beyond that it will take a formal statement from the church that has been approved by the 1st pres. and 12 apostles to get me to accept such a questionable doctrine.

Anyway, an interesting post and discussion.

4/19/2009 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Dave C.: Joseph F. Smith is not one of the ancients. He is the latter-day Prophet who issued the Church's current and official statement on "The Origin of Man."

Four years ago, on another blog, the following statement from Bruce R. McConkie was being discussed:

"Father Adam, the first man, is also a son of God (Luke 3:38; Moses 6:22, 59), a fact that does not change the great truth that Christ is the Only Begotten in the flesh, for Adam's entrance into this world was in immortality. He came here before death had its beginning, with its consequent mortal or flesh-status of existence." (Mormon Doctrine, p.742.)

Two questions from that discussion are relevant to your current comment. (1.) Is the statement scriptural that Christ was the Only Begotten Son "in the flesh"? and (2.) Has the idea that Adam is physically descended from God ever been officially taught?

in a comment addressed to Jared, I added my own thoughts to that discussion and I invite you to read them now.

4/20/2009 01:54:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

DB:Thank you for your recent comment. I hope you'll forgive me for making this brief.

First, Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden as adults.

Second, the word flesh has several meanings in scripture, one of which is mortality. According to the Church's Guide to the Scriptures, the word flesh in both of the following statements refers to mortality: Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh (or in mortality). Adam became the first flesh (or mortal).

5/03/2009 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

DB - Please send me an email (r.gary.shapiro@usa.net).

5/05/2009 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

dWhat a headache! :D

I have always felt that Adam's spirit was already existent on the earth and that God created a body for him out of the earth and put Adam's spirit inside of that tabernacle.

I may have even heard that our Heavenly parents had Adam on this earth, though I do not agree. Does anyone have any insight on this? I am having a hard time deciphering all this discussion (and bickering from what I can tell).

6/02/2009 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a merely logical standpoint one would thus assume that God created Adam and Eve through the same natural methods that we ourselves employ. After all, ones "seed" cannot continue in eternity without a marriage relationship. Logically, if we are made just like God and his Wife then it stands to reason that they obviously would have the same functioning sexual reproductive organs as we. If one (Gods) thus has the literal seed of their makeup in their bodies, wouldn't it make complete sense to form an offspring from your image in the usual manner? We know that "seed" consists of particular DNA within the sexual reproductive areas of our bodies. Adam and Eve are the literal "seed" of God. This means that something that came from God- some physical quantity, was made from him to create Adam and Eve.

We know that our ability to regenerate "seed" (most likely in the sexual reproductive organs) continues on into eternity and we also know that without being bound in the eternal marriage covenant, no seed can become manifest in endless offspring. We also know that relationships pertaining to that aspect of "sexual intimate relationships" continue in eternity (temple endowment knowledge). Now what do you suppose that is for? To people worlds without number.

Rob Osborn

11/01/2011 05:49:00 PM  

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