Friday, September 23, 2011

Welcome RSC Blog

This morning I noticed a new blog in my corner of LDSBlogs.org.  If the current post, "True Faith," is representative of things to come, the new blog will contribute much to our group. Browsing previous posts, I found "Rooted and Grounded in the Faith" which highlights the importance of knowing what's in the scriptures as expounded by modern apostles and prophets. What a wonderful addition to the Mormon Archipelago! Welcome RSC Blog!
(read more...)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dave Banack, LDS Seminary, and the Creation

Dave Banack's discussion "Creationism and LDS Seminary" ignores certain Creation teachings found in the Seminary Old Testament manuals. Why?

Do those Creation teachings "set up LDS kids to have a bad experience when they inevitably take high school or university science courses?" What if the teacher actually used the manuals? Wouldn't some LDS seminary students think those teachings accurately represent the LDS view on Creation?

Dave isn't interested in what Bruce R. McConkie or Joseph Fielding Smith said about Creation. He's interested in more contemporary statements and what the current Seminary manuals say. Great. So what follows are a few Creation teachings from the Seminary manuals along with other current Church manuals and Church published statements by contemporary apostles and prophets.

1. The Unfallen Creation of all things

The image below is from the Old Testament Student Study Guide. (p.12.) Click on the image to open it larger in a new window.

Three stages in Adam's existence

The physical Creation of all things was in an unfallen condition. Later, when Adam fell, all things became mortal and subject to death.

In other words, the creation was paradisiacal.  There was no mortality.  Death for all forms of life began when Adam fell.

2. Death came after the Creation

A chart on page 28 of the teacher's manual describes conditions before and after the Fall. It says: "After the Fall, all things became mortal and could die physically.... The earth also fell."

These statements from the Seminary manual are entirely consistent with Creation teachings in other LDS manuals. For example, the current MP/RS manual, Gospel Principles, teaches:

"When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden,... there was no death" (p.28). "Their part in our Father's plan was to bring mortality into the world." (p.27.)

"Adam and Eve were married by God before there was any death in the world." (p.219.)

The current Teachings of Presidents of the Church manuals were established by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The Harold B. Lee manual teaches Creation without death:

"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." (p.20.)

Likewise, the Wilford Woodruff manual teaches:

"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." (p.81.)

The missionary guide Preach My Gospel (on page 52) directs missionaries to study the LDS Bible Dictionary entry for "Death" which states explicitly: "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."

The First Presidency's doctrinal guidebook True to the Faith teaches that "the Fall of Adam brought physical death into the world." (p.46.)

3. The Creation was exclusively an act of God

We're not told how the Creation happened, but the teacher's manual on p.24 instructs the teacher to:

"Bring a puzzle that has about 200 pieces to class. Ask students to consider how simple and small the puzzle is when compared to the entire universe. Invite a student to try and assemble the puzzle by shaking the contents of the box and letting the pieces fall to the floor. Encourage the student to try again, this time trying harder to let the pieces fit together by themselves. Ask: If something as simple as this puzzle cannot simply fall into place, what does that tell us about something as immense as this earth or universe? Discuss what the experiment teaches about the need for a Creator in assembling the elements."

On that same page, the manual quotes Mark E. Petersen saying Earth's "creation was literally and truly, completely and exclusively, an act of God."

These statements from the Seminary manual are 100% compatible with the following teachings of Russell M. Nelson:

“Many ... people have concluded that the universe began as a 'big bang' that eventually resulted in the creation of our planet and life upon it.

“To me, such theories are unbelievable! Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary? It is unthinkable!" (Ensign, Jan. 1988, 64.)


Scriptures and the prophets have not told us how the earth was created, but they have made it abundantly clear that God was not merely an idle spectator, patiently waiting for the Creation to unfold on its own. Spencer W. Kimball so testified:

"The truth remains. The earth was made by the Gods as was the watch by the watchmaker. Opinions do not change that." (Liahona, June 1988.)

"Who can doubt that there is a designer?" declared President Monson in the April 2010 General Conference.

"If there is a design in this world in which we live, there must be a Designer. Who can behold the many wonders of the universe without believing that there is a design for all mankind? Who can doubt that there is a Designer?

"In the book of Genesis we learn that the Grand Designer created the heaven and the earth." (Ensign, May 2010.)

Any discussion about LDS Seminary teachings on Genesis 1 and the Creation should at least acknowledge what the Student and Teacher Old Testament Seminary manuals say about the Creation. And any seminary teacher who has intentionally or unwittingly controverted what's in the manuals should, to borrow Dave's words, "probably announce a correction to the class."

(read more...)