Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ardis Parshall is right about no death before the fall

Last week, I had an interesting encounter with Ardis Parshall on her blog Keepapitchinin. There was some disagreement but not much discussion as she responded to my comments mostly with name calling. However, there was one pair of comments that I'd like to discuss further.

Gary (comment 22): "In terms of alignment with what the Church teaches, [evolution] has a problem, because all fossils are dead; and the Church's Bible Dictionary, Guide to the Scriptures, True to the Faith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, and Gospel Principles 2009 (to name a few) all teach no death before the fall of Adam."

Ardis (comment 29): "The Church has no official position. I will continue to fight for that until a unified quorum or quorums announce otherwise. Beyond that, Gary and you and everybody else can believe what you want, with my cheerful blessing. I just won't let it go unchallenged that because this or that individual religious authority, in this or that random publication that may have been sponsored by the Church and happens to include some incidental statement relative to the matter, such statement constitutes a revelation that is binding upon me or anyone else. It isn't."

Notice how Ardis sidestepped the issue by marginalizing the six books I named. But these are not random publications. They are current LDS publications. All six were produced at the request of and under the direction of the First Presidency.

Every copy of the LDS Bible has bound in with it the LDS Bible Dictionary (English) or Guide to the Scriptures (Spanish); and all electronic editions of the LDS Scriptures have them both. True to the Faith was written and published for all youth, young single adults, and new members. The other books are given to all adult members as gospel reference and for Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society class discussion.

I believe these publications do show "what the Church teaches" about death before the fall. Ardis argued against that by saying the Church has no official position, it isn't a revelation, and it isn't binding.

Ardis Parshall is right. No death before the fall is not binding, or a revelation, or the official position of the Church.

But her arguments misrepresent my comment. I've never even heard the claim made that no death before the fall is binding, or a revelation, or the official position of the Church. And I've certainly never made such a claim myself.

I've said simply that it's "what the Church teaches."

Okay. So here are some of those statements that are "incidental" from publications that are "random." Read them and decide for yourself what the Church teaches.

LDS Bible Dictionary

"Before the fall,... there was no sin, no death, and no children among any of the earthly creations. With the eating of the 'forbidden fruit,' Adam and Eve became mortal, sin entered,... and death became a part of life. Adam became the 'first flesh' upon the earth, meaning that he and Eve were the first to become mortal. After Adam fell, the whole creation fell and became mortal. Adam's fall brought both physical and spiritual death into the world upon all mankind." ("Fall of Adam.")

"Adam is spoken of as the 'first flesh' upon the earth, meaning he was the first mortal on the earth, all things being created in a nonmortal condition, and becoming mortal through the fall of Adam." ("Flesh.")

"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 (2 Ne. 2:22; Moses 6:48)." ("Death.")

Guide to the Scriptures

"The Fall brought mortality and death to the earth (2 Ne. 2:22; Moses 6:48)." ("Death, Physical.")

True to the Faith

"The Fall of Adam brought physical death into the world (see Moses 6:48)." ("Death, Physical.")

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff

"We acknowledge that through Adam all have died, that death through the fall must pass upon the whole human family, also upon the beasts of the field, the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and all the works of God, as far as this earth is concerned." (Chapter 8.)

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee

"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.... How it took place no one can explain, and anyone who would attempt to make an explanation would be going far beyond anything the Lord has told us. But a change was wrought over the whole face of the creation, which up to that time had not been subject to death. From that time henceforth all in nature was in a state of gradual dissolution until mortal death was to come, after which there would be required a restoration in a resurrected state." (Chapter 3.)

Gospel Principles (2009 edition)

"Jesus Christ created this world and everything in it" (p.23). "When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden,... there was no death" (p.28). "Adam and Eve were married by God before there was any death in the world" (p.219). "Their part in our Father's plan was to bring mortality into the world" (p.27).


Anonymous Mike said...

I will not force the evolution crowd to believe in anything against their will, but I think they are as a group all too willing to be the only point of view permitted in public schools.

8/11/2009 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger S.Faux said...

R. Gary:

I appreciate your faithfulness, persistence, and testimony. Little or nothing is more important. I am just grateful to be in a Church where we can disagree about the peripheral issues. Evolution is clearly a peripheral issue. I hope it is, at least.

This fall I will be teaching a semester-long university course on human evolution. At the same time I will be teaching out of the priesthood manual on Sundays. I will be putting my best efforts into all these lessons. Further, I will love the priesthood lessons the most.

I believe in Adam & Eve. I believe we live in a "fallen" world. Much of the story, to me, is clearly metaphorical and symbolic. Whatever the truth of the story, it is essential and meaningful. How these individuals fit into the scientific scheme of evolution I would NOT even pretend to know.

What I do know is that the fossil record is systematic, not random. What I do know is that DNA sequences allow for a reconstructed evolutionary tree. I know that dinosaurs existed in the distant past. I know that humans share all the general characteristics of mammals, without skipping a beat.

Thus, I wonder why God would allow nature to lie to us about our past. I don't believe that God lies.

I am left with trying to think of some scriptural verses as metaphorical. I WILL NOT do as some scientists have done, like Dawkins, and turn to atheism. I cannot reject gravity. I cannot reject evolution. I cannot reject God.

So, R. Gary (and you other anti-evolutionists), I just hope you will let us humble evolutionists sit beside you in priesthood meetings on Sundays. There are quite a few of us.

8/12/2009 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

S.Faux, save me a seat please. I'll be there.

8/12/2009 10:55:00 AM  

<< Home