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Monday, May 04, 2009

Humans before Adam

According to the Origins of Humankind page at PBS Evolution, modern humans first appeared about 100,000 years ago.  If that is true, either Adam fell 100,000 years ago or he was not the first man.

In response to this seeming contradiction, blogger and BYU evolutionist SteveP recently suggested that the words "first man" might refer to the first time a spirit child of God was placed in a physical human body. According to this view, no matter when humans first appeared on earth, it was only about six thousand years ago that "the spirit and the body [first became] the soul of man" (D&C 88:15)

The body is dead without the spirit

According to the Church's Guide to the Scriptures, "the physical body cannot live without the spirit." This statement is made in reference to the words of James that "the body without the spirit is dead" (James 2:26).

We teach investigators and new members that "without the spirit, the body has no life and is placed in a grave." (Gospel Fundamentals, 195; see also Preparing for Exaltation: Teacher's Manual, 34.)

We teach our young children that the body is lifeless without the spirit:

"Hold up your hand, and explain that it represents the spirit that is inside our bodies. The hand can move. Hold up the glove (stocking), and explain that it represents the physical body. When we are born, the spirit and the body are temporarily joined together, and the spirit gives the body life. The body cannot move by itself. But just like when the glove is placed on the hand, the body becomes alive and can move when the spirit enters it. (Put the glove on your hand.)" ("Primary 4: Book of Mormon, 160; see also 2007 Outline for Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation.)

All humans are spirit children of God

So what about all those humans that supposedly lived before Adam? Again, BYU's SteveP postulates that humans before Adam might have been made alive by spirits that were not the spirit children of God. According to this view, humans descended from Adam are spirit children of God.

But the Church clearly teaches that "all" humans are spirit children of God. Here is the official statement:

"All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents." ("The Family: A Proclamation to the World.")

In a document of the magnitude of the family proclamation, the First Presidency and Twelve do not make casual, offhand declarations of doctrine. The family proclamation is of great significance to our generation and it means exactly what it says.

Conclusion

The scriptures teach that the body without the spirit is dead. The Church teaches that all humans are spirit children of God. The word of the Lord is that Adam was "the first man of all men" (Moses 1:34).

SteveP can believe whatever he wants about humans before Adam. Apparently, he can even teach those ideas at BYU. But his BYU students should be aware that some of his assertions contradict what is taught by the LDS Church.

18 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

You're assuming that science and the LDS church share identical definitions of "man" and "human being."
I'm not convinced that they do.

5/04/2009 04:44:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Tim:  Yep. That must be it. One of them—science or the LDS Church—is using a secret code.

5/04/2009 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger cinepro said...

C'mon, R.Gary. It takes a lot of effort for people to reconcile evolution with LDS doctrine. Go easy on 'em.

Their only chance is for people to forget what has been revealed, and to think that there really is a huge gray area that's big enough to fit the words of the Prophets and the words of the Scientists. But after reading your well-referenced blog posts, I'm not so sure that's the case.

Which means someone's in trouble.

5/04/2009 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous SteveP said...

Gary, I love ya. I will say this. I think either you or I are right. The watered down ID stuff is incoherent. Yours is at least a coherent perspective. God did it six thousand years ago with a wave of his hand. End of story. As I've said, you get to dismiss a lot evidence: fossil, geology, physics (radiocarbon dating), molecular biology, anatomy, biochemical homology, genetics, etc. you have a lot of explaining to do. I'm not allowed to dismiss it so easily. I have a much larger set of data I must bring into coherence. You get to say, "I don't deal with that because I have faith." I have faith, but am forced to confront a mountain of data from the real world. More than you can imagine points to evolution. And the idea that God put it all there to deceive just seems wrong at face value. The data would blow you over if you became familiar with it. Try reading one of the books I recommend on my blog about the evidence. I'd like to hear what you do with it. But anyway. No hard feelings. I find you refreshing in at least you know what you believe and are uncompromising to what you see as threats to the faith. I think you are wrong, of course, however I think there is lots we would agree on about the Who and Why of creation. But on the How we are at complete loggerheads.

5/04/2009 08:26:00 PM  
OpenID heavenlybanner said...

Great point, as always Gary. Keep it up.

--
Steven Montgomery

5/04/2009 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Thank you, cinepro and Steven Montgomery, for your kind comments.

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SteveP:  Regarding "a mountain of data from the real world":

According to the Church's Guide to the Scriptures, resurrection is "the reuniting of the spirit body with the physical body of flesh and bones after death [in which] the spirit and body will never again be separated, and the person will become immortal."

It has been reliably estimated that more than a hundred billion people have lived on the earth. Yet there is not one scientifically documented case of resurrection in any peer-reviewed journal. In fact, no scientific experiments are known to have ever been done that show that resurrection is even possible.

A hundred billion unopened graves seems to me like "a mountain of data from the real world," hard physical evidence that resurrection doesn't happen. But totally meaningless because resurrection DOES happen and will yet happen for all humankind.

I agree with you that "there is lots we would agree on about the Who and Why of creation. But on the How we are at complete loggerheads."

In the end, however, it's not so much about my own opinions, what I "see as threats to the faith." It's more about what the Church teaches and especially what some of you guys tell my kids (9) and grandkids (34) about what the Church teaches. Just get that part right. After that, I really don't care what you believe about evolution.

Love ya too, man.

5/05/2009 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

You were pretty dismissive of Tim. I've got a book that uses "human" to refer to all members of the genus Homo (man). You're reasoning would include them all as spirit children of God too.

I wish I could have heard the part of the council meeting where the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve discussed the meaning of the proclamation for paleoanthropology. But I think it more likely that, in a document "of great significance to our generation," they used the word "human" in a more limited sense--one of relevance to our generation.

5/05/2009 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared* - Welcome back. It's been a while. It's good to have a comment from you. I always appreciate your perspective.

5/05/2009 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

Well now, Gary, it seems like you and Steve have taken the gloves off (hockey expression).

I have a difficult time reconciling evidence for pre-Adamite hominids and Adam being the first mortal on earth. While I generally accept your viewpoint, I am not going to close my mind to other possibilities because the physical evidence is very compelling.

ANyhow, have read Skousen's book "Earth in the Beginning"? He writes a bit on this topic and other topics you have discussed. I would like to hear your viewpoint on what Skousen proposes.

In my humble opinion, to be considered somewhat of an expert on these issues, we need to read the published works of other Latter-day Saints who have written on these matters, otherwise we are operating in an intellectual silo.

Cheers.

5/05/2009 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Dave C. - I'm not trying to be an expert on anything. I just want to know what the Church teaches. So I study the published works of the apostles and prophets, and they're not "operating in an intellectual silo." But thanks for the suggestion.

5/05/2009 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve EM said...

I assume the bible genealogies aren’t complete and modern humans have been around a lot longer than a fundamentalist viewpoint of the bible would indicate. The approximate 6000 year chronology assumes not only extreme lifetimes for early mankind, but that the bible genealogies are complete. The former assumption is hard to accept and latter assumption borders on absurdity. On the more likely assumption that these genealogies are a written version of an ancient oral history, they are only listing people of renown. The nobodies (most generations) are skipped. Under that assumption, an historical Adam could have easily lived 60,000 years ago, 100,000 years ago or even further in the past. Adam and Eve are most likely a mythological construct to represent a group of people from which we all descend anyway. In short, it's not history, but has profound religious significance nevertheless.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Y chromosome Adam who lived ~60,000 years ago in Africa was indeed our Adam, the first modern human capable of abstract thought, advanced tools, art, etc, and the first to attempt a primitive prayer seeking guidance from a being he perceived but couldn’t see.

5/09/2009 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

In the end, I'll trust the scriptures ancient and modern and what the Spirit teaches. Other than that, I will be glad to wait until the Lord reveals such things to us.

As for now, I do not support the idea of humans before Adam, or evolution from apes to man. Such contradicts what is known to be true in the Church from my perspective.

6/02/2009 06:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Gary, good post. Scientists have a lot of explanations, they just don't cohere very well when you add them all up. They know the strengths of their arguments very well indeed, they just aren't taught the weaknesses of those same arguments. You can expect a career evolutionist to toe the evolutionary line - that's what they do. They like to pose these things as written in stone, but the stones say other interpretations of the data are possible and in fact required if you want to make meaningful sense of what they are saying. I have found a number of interesting websites which I display proudly on my own website and invite you to check them out if you haven't already discovered them.

6/26/2009 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

>>>As I've said, you get to dismiss a lot evidence: fossil, geology, physics (radiocarbon dating), molecular biology, anatomy, biochemical homology, genetics, etc. you have a lot of explaining to do. I'm not allowed to dismiss it so easily. I have a much larger set of data I must bring into coherence. You get to say, "I don't deal with that because I have faith." I have faith, but am forced to confront a mountain of data from the real world. More than you can imagine points to evolution. And the idea that God put it all there to deceive just seems wrong at face value. The data would blow you over if you became familiar with it. Try reading one of the books I recommend on my blog about the evidence. I'd like to hear what you do with it.<<<<<

I love this type of rationale. As if evolutionists own the interpretation of data, presumably by dint of their superior education. You mean, the rest of us DON'T have this data, and are incapable of interpreting it correctly. We would be 'blown away' by the superiority of the evolutionary interpretation. Now that's good PR, it certainly appears to convey an aura of invincibility doesn't it? And since most people are humble enough to admit they may not know everything, this sort of peer pressure works as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Eventually they all cave, don't they, because they are not shown the weaknesses of the theory. You will see what your are told to see, and if that's not sufficient, we have a boatload of jargon that will overwhelm you with the sheer magnitude of it.

6/26/2009 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tyler Turner said...

Isn't the argument that there is a lot of data that points to the contrary a mute point because there was no death on the earth(human or animal--as I understand it) before the fall? I'm not saying I have the answer to reconcile it all, but that gives me a good jumping off point.

7/01/2009 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Tyler Turner said...

Apologies... that would be "moot" point.

7/01/2009 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger birdchaser said...

Tony, the Lord has already revealed a lot about human evolution to us through modern science. To paraphrase D&C 121, "As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge [about human evolution] from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints."

Of course, just like Oliver, before we get the revelation we're gonna have to study it out in our own mind and become familiar with the scientific evidence before the Lord can confirm the truth of it to us!

7/13/2009 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

birdchaser: If science is your religion and the Lord has confirmed the truth of it to you, I can only congratulate you. But let me ask you this: Where and when has the LDS Church published a statement by an apostle endorsing the idea that organic evolution explains the origin of man?

7/13/2009 09:20:00 PM  

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