Wednesday, June 03, 2009

LDS Church in Guide to the Scriptures says "the Fall brought mortality and death to the earth"

In 2002, the LDS Church published its scriptures on CD.  One of the study aids found on that CD is Guide to the Scriptures which "defines selected doctrines."

Defining doctrine

One of the "selected doctrines" defined in Guide to the Scriptures is based on the following verse of scripture:

"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 must have remained forever, and had no end."  (2 Ne. 2:22)

According to Guide to the Scriptures, this verse means:

"The Fall brought mortality and death to the earth."

The LDS Bible Dictionary interprets the same verse similarly:

"Latter-day revelation teaches that there was no death on this earth for any forms of life before the fall of Adam. Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the fall."

Some individuals feel the disclaimer in its Preface authorizes rejection of the LDS Bible Dictionary, but notice that Guide to the Scriptures contains no disclaimer.

Stephens and Meldrum

In their 2001 book, Trent D. Stephens and D. Jeffrey Meldrum set forth an interpretation of 2 Ne. 2:22 that is more compatible with their view of earth's history.  They propose that the Garden of Eden was an island of deathless life in an otherwise death-filled world:

"The prevailing conditions would have continued indefinitely, as they had for millennia.  On the other hand, Adam and Eve would have continued in a state of immortality as long as they had access to the Tree of Life." (Trent D. Stephens and D. Jeffrey Meldrum, Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001, p.135.)

According to this interpretation, the Fall brought mortality and death to Adam and Eve, but those conditions were not new outside the Garden of Eden.


The Stephens and Meldrum theory contradicts the Church's interpretation of 2 Ne. 2:22, which is that "the Fall brought mortality and death to the earth"—not just to Adam and Eve, and not just to the Garden of Eden, but "to the earth."


Anonymous dave c. said...

OK, I've got my popcorn and am ready for the showdown between the young earth creationists and evolutionists.

LLet's Get Ready to Rummble!!

6/09/2009 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Dave C.: Young earth creationists believe God created the earth in six 24-hour days. The LDS Church's Old Testament Student Manual, Genesis — 2 Samuel (Religion 301) says "According to this theory, the earth was created in one week, or 168 hours.... Very few people, either members of the Church or members of other religions, hold to this theory." (p.28.)

6/10/2009 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger the firths said...

Gary- Now that Dave has his popcorn ready, I've got a couple questions for you.

Regarding: "The Fall brought mortality and death to the earth."
What exactly is it about this quote that leads you to interpret "earth" as "entire planet", or that forces death to start its work *after* Adam and Eve left the literal garden?

Also, does that quote you shared in your comment (from the OT manual) indicate that the Church suggests that these sorts of issues are up for debate based on the feasibility or popularity of a theory? Isn't it reasonable that the 2050 republication of that manual could read "according to this theory, the earth was created in approximately 6000 years, or about 52560000 hours.... Very few people, either members of the Church or members of other religions, hold to this theory"?? What then?

6/11/2009 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


firths:  Thanks for stopping by. Here are some of my thoughts about your questions.


The words "the earth," as found in the passage from Guide to the Scriptures, are used by the Church to explain the words "all things which were created" from 2 Ne. 2:22. That would include, I believe, the "entire planet."

In the Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society manual seven years ago, the Church said this about what happened to the entire planet when Adam fell:

"Besides the Fall having had to do with Adam and Eve, causing a change to come over them, that change affected all human nature, all of the natural creations, all of the creation of animals, plants—all kinds of life were changed. The earth itself became subject to death." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, p.20.)


Regarding what the LDS Church's Old Testament Student manual says about the length of a creation day, I think you should read that entire section of the manual (click here to view). If you do, you'll find that the scriptures simply do not provide sufficient information to accurately determine the age of the earth.

6/11/2009 08:16:00 PM  
Anonymous SteveP said...

Here was my favorite line from the manual:

"For reasons best known to Himself, the Lord has not yet seen fit to formally reveal the details of the Creation. Therefore, while Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn truth from many different fields of study (see D&C 88:77–79), an attempt to establish any theory as the official position of the Church is not justifiable."

6/11/2009 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

SteveP:  It's good to hear from you again. And yes, the passage you quote correctly summarizes Section 2-3 How Old Is the Earth, which outlines three theories about the age of the world and concludes, as you have quoted, that no one of these three theories is the official position of the Church.

6/11/2009 10:05:00 PM  

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