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Friday, April 01, 2011

The Prophet, the Atonement, and evolution's wiggle room

The effects of the Fall are overcome by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement saves all men, Adam and Eve and all of their posterity. This view leaves a small amount of wiggle room in the search for harmony between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution.

But alas, there is no wiggle room for evolution in the April 2011 Ensign. It teaches a more complete understanding of the Atonement. 2011-04 Ensign coverIt teaches that all things were created in a paradisiacal state, without death and without procreation. Then came the Fall, by which Adam and Eve became the first mortal flesh on earth, and by which procreation and death entered the whole creation. The Atonement of Jesus Christ saves all things, not just the human race. As in Adam all things die, even so in Christ shall all things be made alive. (Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, April 2011, 59; summarized.)

The Atonement of Jesus Christ saves "all things"

Confirming this point of view, today's living prophet teaches that the Atonement of Jesus Christ saves "all things: the human race, the earth, and all the life that ever inhabited it." (President Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, April 2011, 4.)



Additional reading

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." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 81.)

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." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 20.)

LDS Bible Dictionary: "After Adam fell, the whole creation fell and became mortal." (Bible Dictionary, Fall of Adam.)

Thomas S. Monson: "At the last moment the Master could have turned back. But He did not. He passed beneath all things that He might save all things: the human race, the earth, and all the life that ever inhabited it." (President Thomas S. Monson, "He Is Not Here, but Is Risen," Ensign, April 2011, 4.)

Bruce R. McConkie: "As we read, ponder, and pray, there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God — the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.

"The Creation, Fall, and Atonement

"In Eden we will see all things created in a paradisiacal state — without death, without procreation, without probationary experiences.

"We will come to know that such a creation, now unknown to man, was the only way to provide for the Fall.

"We will then see Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, step down from their state of immortal and paradisiacal glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth.

"Mortality, including as it does procreation and death, will enter the world. And because of transgression a probationary estate of trial and testing will begin.

"Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall.

"And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave.

"Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life.

"If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life." (Bruce R. McConkie, "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane," Ensign, April 2011, 59.)

6 Comments:

Anonymous Paul 2 said...

Hello R. Gary, You are of course perfectly right, provided that ecclesiastical authority plus deductive logic equals the truth, even when that particular authority's deductive logic has been shown to have failed in other cases, and even when there is lots of evidence to contradict his statement.

4/01/2011 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jettboy said...

Paul 2, I am not sure if you are calling the "particular authority," whoever or whatever that means, a liar or an idiot. Your comment isn't very clear.

4/01/2011 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Paul 2: It is surprizing to me that people continue to find refuge in the approach you're taking. Think of it. First, we're talking about someone who has been known to be wrong. Second, the evidence contradicts his current statement.

If either or both of those conditions were actually true, his associates would likely not publish his errors in the Church's official magazines and manuals. And the Prophet would likely not publish a First Presidency Message containing a paragraph confirming that particular authority's views.

Jettboy: Picking a fight with Paul 2 is not, in my view, productive. I think he should disregard your comment.

4/01/2011 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Paul 2 said...

Hi Jettboy, my comment was not meant to disparage. I did mean to say that some of the items in the original Mormon Doctrine were not correct and so therefore the methodology proposed by R. Gary is flawed. I believe that most of the time when people say things that are incorrect, they believe they are correct, so no disparagement or accusations were meant. However, we are all fools before God, even the people leading the church.

I have decided that I wish to evaluate these type of questions independently, considering all evidence. My quest for truth is not something I want to, or believe can be, outsourced to human authorities if one is to meet the unknown and grow.

R. Gary's post is based on the assumption that long term errors of significance are not possible in the church, therefore there is no wiggle room for people who believe the earth is old and evolution is the method by which the earth was formed.

However, it is very clear that sometimes statements by modern prophets end up not being reflected by reality.

In the same spirit, it is possible that some of the current teachings that have been taught for generations are also erroneous. Because this possibility is not being seriously considered by the author of the post, the evidence that may contradict this is not being taken seriously, and in fact the author says that someone who agrees with the physical evidence has no wiggle room.

It is true that there are fundamental epistemological differences between R. Gary and myself. It is my belief that much of Elder McConkie's work was the application of deductive logic to the gospel. Deductive logic works well when all of the assumptions are correct. However, if the assumptions are incorrect, deductive logic gives invalid results. He did have some invalid results.

I respectfully enjoy R. Gary's site, and I am sure we would get along well if he were in my HP group doing the work that should be done. In fact, he would be the warmest body in our HP group if he were in my ward and it would do us some good.

4/01/2011 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger raedyohed said...

Thanks R Gary,
I went back and re-read the talk again. I had read it maybe a month or so ago, but hadn't noticed it in this month's issue.
Elder McConkie's delivery of the talk in the April 1985 Conference is probably the most vivid description and testimony of the events of the atonement I have ever heard. His testimony was deeply moving. It was well worth re-listening and re-reading. Thanks for pointing it out.

The following excerpts stood out to me this time through it: The atonement "is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur... in some way incomprehensible to us, the effects of his resurrection pass upon all men so that all shall rise from the grave. As Adam brought death, so Christ brought life; as Adam is the father of mortality, so Christ is the father of immortality."

His three gardens analogy, and also the three pillars analogy, are really useful approaches to viewing these events. His encouragement to seek to have in "our minds a view" of these things has been a point of reflection for me lately. Elder McConkie had a wonderful way of making gospel truths like the creation, the fall, and the atonement that are "incomprehensible to us" accessible so that anyone can apply them in their lives.

4/01/2011 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Paul 2: In case you haven't noticed, I edited your comment. My thoughts about the deleted section were published previously here. Unfortunately, that thread is closed. However, if you would like to discuss that subject with me, send an email to

          r.gary.shapiro at usa.net

raedyohed: I appreciate your comment.

4/01/2011 11:56:00 AM  

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