Monday, September 17, 2012

Evolution and the premortal spirit of man, conclusion: The body is the clothing of and looks like the spirit.

Man is a dual being, a spirit clothed in a mortal body. The spirits of all men belong to the family of God. The physical body is only the clothing of the spirit:

Gospel Principles:  "Spirit beings have the same bodily form as mortals except that the spirit body is in perfect form (see Ether 3:16).... All spirits are in adult form. They were adults before their mortal existence, and they are in adult form after death, even if they die as infants or children." (2011, Chapter 41, p.242.)

LDS.org Topic: "Spirit. The Lord [has] revealed that ‘the spirit of man [is] in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created’ (D&C 77:2; see also Ether 3:7-16)."

Bible Dictionary:  "Spirit. Every person is literally a son or a daughter of God, having been born as a spirit to Heavenly Parents previous to being born to mortal parents on the earth (cf. Heb. 12:9). Thus each one of us is a dual being: an immortal spirit body, clothed with a body of flesh and bone."

Guide to the Scriptures:  "Spirit. The spirit body looks like the physical body (1 Ne. 11:11; Ether 3:15–16; D&C 77:2; D&C 129)."

1909 First Presidency statement:  "The body, which is only the clothing of the spirit, [is] its complement—the two together constituting the soul. The spirit of man is in the form of man, and the spirits of all creatures are in the likeness of their bodies. This was plainly taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 77:2)....

"He [the Savior] came into the world as He had promised to come (see 3 Ne. 1:13), taking an infant tabernacle and developing it gradually to the fulness of His spirit stature....

"Man, as a spirit, was ... reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth." (Ensign, Feb. 2002.)

After the spirits of the entire human family had been reared to maturity, Heavenly Father convened a family council and presented a plan. His children would have the opportunity to become perfected and receive a fulness of joy.

Guide to the Scriptures:  "Council in Heaven. The occasion in premortal life when the Father presented his plan to his spirit children who would come to this earth."

Jeffrey R. Holland: "The need for this Fall and for an atonement to compensate for it was explained in a premortal Council in Heaven at which the spirits of the entire human family attended and over which God the Father presided." (Ensign, Mar. 2008.)

That the spirit body looks like the physical body was illustrated by Kent F. Richards in the April 2011 general conference:

“Thirteen-year-old Sherrie underwent a 14-hour operation for a tumor on her spinal cord. As she regained consciousness in the intensive care unit, she said: ‘Daddy, Aunt Cheryl is here,... and ... Grandpa Norman ... and Grandma Brown ... are here. And Daddy, who is that standing beside you? ... He looks like you, only taller. ... He says he’s your brother, Jimmy.’ Her uncle Jimmy had died at age 13 of cystic fibrosis.

“‘For nearly an hour, Sherrie ... described her visitors, all deceased family members. Exhausted, she then fell asleep.’

“Later she told her father, ‘Daddy, all of the children here in the intensive care unit have angels helping them.’” (Ensign, May 2011.)

In the above account, Sherrie's relatives were all spirit children of Heavenly Parents and had all been reared to maturity long before the foundations of the earth were laid. Sherrie was able to recognize her departed relatives because the spirit body looks like the physical body.


As with all of our Father's children, Sherrie's relatives had been born into mortality and each had become a living soul, a spirit clothed with a body. In this life, the spirit must learn to control the body. It is easy for me to understand how, under the influence of its spirit, the body grows until it reaches the stature of its spirit.

There have been billions of people on this earth and I can't even imagine how evolution could have produced a body for each person that looks just like his or her premortal spirit. Therefore, it is very difficult for me to reconcile the doctrine of man's premortal spirit (as taught by the Church today) with current theories of human evolution.


Anonymous DB said...

Does the body take on the appearance of the spirit or does the spirit take on the appearance of the body? The quotes above would indicate that the spirit takes on the appearance of the body.

"Spirit beings have the same bodily form as mortals" not mortals have the same bodily form as spirit beings.

"The spirit of man [is] in the likeness of his person" not the body of man is in the likeness of his spirit.

"The spirit body looks like the physical body" not the physical body looks like the spirit body.

"The spirit of man is in the form of man" not man is in the form of his spirit.

"The spirits of all creatures are in the likeness of their bodies" not the bodies of all creatures are in the likeness of their spirits.

Even little Sherrie's story illustrates that the spirits look like their bodies. Where in our doctrine or in the scriptures are we ever taught that each person's body looks just like his or her permortal spirit?

9/18/2012 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


DB: So you're saying the spirit takes on the appearance of its clothing?

9/18/2012 07:40:00 AM  
Anonymous DB said...

I'm agreeing with all the quotes you provided that our spiritual body takes on the appearance of our physical body. The appearance of our physical body is determined by genetics. I share many physical characteristics with my parents, my siblings, and my children because we share the same genetic code. I share fewer physical characteristics with unrelated people because we share less genetic code. I don't know what determines the appearance of our spiritual bodies nor do I know if our spiritual bodies appear differently to spiritual beings and physical beings.

9/18/2012 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

DB: I look like my brother. My brother looks like me. Neither sentence reveals anything about the process by which we came to look alike. Both sentences say the same thing, we look alike. Genetics is science, not scripture. Science cannot help us understand the relationship between the spirit and the body. The official statement of the Church on the subject is that the body is "only the clothing of the spirit." Your hand (symbol of the spirit) does not take on the appearance of the glove (symbol of the body) when you put the glove on your hand. The spirit gives the body life. They look alike because the body is the clothing of the spirit. Science, by definition, knows absolutely nothing about the spirit and its relationship to the body. It is one thing to agree with the words in the quotes. It is quite another thing to agree with the meaning that was intended by those who said the words. I think you do the former but not the latter.

9/18/2012 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous DB said...

I disagree. I agree with the meaning and I think you misunderstand the meaning that was intended. I have yet to read or hear any statement from any Apostle that our physical body takes on the appearance of our spiritual body. It's always stated that the spiritual body is in the form of the physical body, never the reverse so I am agreeing with the statements from the Apostles and you are not. Science knows absolutely nothing about the relationship between the spiritual body and physical body, but frankly, neither does our religion. That has never been revealed. Oh, and the glove doesn't take on the appearance of the hand either so I'm not sure what you're trying to explain with the hand/glove metaphor unless you're trying to say that the spiritual body and the physical body don't look alike.

9/18/2012 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

DB: The Church says, "man, as a spirit, was ... reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth." (Italics added.) I do not see how this can be reasonably construed to mean that the premortal spirit is a faceless blob before birth which then takes on the appearance of its physical body. A full grown person doesn't change his or her appearance just because he or she dons a coat.

Marion G. Romney was an apostle for 37 years and a member of the First Presidency for 13 years. I'd be interested in your thoughts about these 19 paragraphs from one of his Ensign First Presidency Messages. Note particularly the wording in the first and last paragraphs highlighted. He is giving "a description of the form and nature of a spirit who had not yet received a physical body." He is describing "who we were as pre-mortal spirit children of God."

If President Romney represents mainstream Mormon thinking, then the meaning I've attached to the quotes in my post is correct. What do you think?

9/18/2012 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

I have struggled with finding good answers to this issue. Did black people have a 'black' spirit in the pre-existence, and will they have black skin in the resurrection? If the answers are no and no then it is difficult to see how the spirit and body look completely the same. Also, so much of what we look like is determined by our genetic make-up given to us by our earthly parents. I find it difficult to believe that our earthly parentage was predetermined, except for Jesus and some prophets. I can accept that my ressurected body and post-mortal spirit will look like my mortal body, but I don't think my pre-existence spirit looked like I do right now. I think my spiritual identity was more driven by my personality and spirituality. So many questions.

9/18/2012 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Dave C.: The official Church teaching is that the body is "only the clothing of the spirit." I like that answer. I think it is a good answer. If the skin is only clothing, skin color doesn't really matter. And of course the spirit and body don't look completely the same. The body is mortal and has imperfections. But the spirit and body look recognizably the same and in the resurrection will look completely the same.

Are families predestined? Are looks determined solely by genetics? Before you answer, remember there is a spiritual side to all life on earth. And science considers only physical evidence. Therefore, half of the total evidence that exists (the spiritual half) about how things work is not considered, even when available. How much power is the spirit given over its body? Enough to take an infant tabernacle and develop it gradually to the fulness of its stature? We know that's what Jesus did.

There are some things that cannot be fully understood by mortals (Mosiah 4:9). As one of the most science friendly apostles of this dispensation wrote: "No one realizes more fully than does the mind trained to scientific method how much we do not know." (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith.)

9/19/2012 12:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

Going along with Dave C., there are obvious characteristics among races, such as height, nose width, weight, etc., to name a few.

I find it hard to imagine that all people's spirits had general traits based on which race they would be on the earth. To me that sounds like thinking that's on the path to ideas such as some people being a certain race because they were somehow less valiant than others in the pre-earth life.

9/19/2012 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Stanton S:  Howard W. Hunter has provided some thoughts that may be helpful. His address was given in 1979, the year after the 1978 priesthood revelation.

-------------- quote --------------
“I would like to read to you several passages from the scriptures that refer to our common paternity and how our nationalities were determined. First, from Paul’s address on Mars’ Hill to the intellectuals in the market place at Athens. Because of their worship of an unknown god, Paul was directing his remarks to an explanation of the true God. He said:

“‘And [God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation’ (Acts 17:26).

“The words ‘hath made of one blood all nations of men’ refer to Adam, the mortal father of the nations of men. The whole human race is the offspring of one man. Paul said that by divine plan the offspring has been scattered over the earth at the ‘times before appointed’—that is, the period fixed by God for the several families to go into the countries where he decreed they should dwell. Not only did God determine the times when they should go, but also the ‘bounds of their habitation.’ or, in other words, the countries where they should dwell so that their posterity might carry our the Lord’s divine purposes.” (Ensign, June 1979.)
-------------- end quote --------------

9/19/2012 07:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

So which of Heavenly Father's spiritual genes are the "African traits" genes, and how does he choose when one of his spirit children get them so that that child is born into a family of African heritage?

I still think that what Dave C. said makes more sense.

9/20/2012 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Stanton S: First of all, scripture teaches that "in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." (Acts 10:35.) "All the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord, saith the prophet; every nation, kindred, tongue and people shall be blessed." (1 Ne. 19:17.)

The following paragraph is found in "Doctrines of the Gospel" (Student Manual, Religion 430 and 431, Second Edition, 2004, p.56). It is from a general conference talk given by Harold B. Lee while he was serving as Church President:

-------------- quote --------------
"All these rewards were seemingly promised, or foreordained, before the world was. Surely these matters must have been determined by the kind of lives we had lived in that premortal spirit world. Some may question these assumptions, but at the same time they will accept without any question the belief that each one of us will be judged when we leave this earth according to his or her deeds during our lives here in mortality. Isn't it just as reasonable to believe that what we have received here in this earth life was given to each of us according to the merits of our conduct before we came here?"
-------------- end quote --------------

How does God choose into which nation his spirit children are born? As far as I know, he hasn't said. But we do know this:

-------------- quote --------------
"Our Father in Heaven knows who we are and what we did before we came here. He has chosen the time and place for each of us to be born so we can learn the lessons we personally need and do the most good with our individual talents and personalities." (Gospel Principles, 2009 edition, p.10.)
-------------- end quote --------------

Please note that it isn't really important to me whether you agree with these or any other teachings of the Church. I just want visitors to be clear about what I myself believe and why.

9/20/2012 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

I believe that Pres. Lee was a good man. I also believe that we are largely a product of our upbringing and culture. The culture of his time wasn't exactly friendly towards those of other races, and it is my opinion that some of that rubbed off on Harold B. Lee as evidenced by his blocking the Quorum of the Twelve from rescinding the ban on blacks and the priesthood in 1969.

Yes, I know that his justification was because there wasn't a revelation given to stop the ban, but at the same time, there was never a revelation given to start the ban in the first place (see comments from Elder Marlin K. Jensen in the recent documentary on the church Mormon in America, part of the Rock Center series with Brian Williams.

I just can't accept that someone born to a poor family in a third world country is in that situation because they weren't as faithful in the pre-earth life as us here in the USA.

Surely anyone who has been outside of the country would tell you that there are equally good people all over the world. With all the prevalent evil around us here in the states, I can't bring myself to believe that someone born and raised in Utah County who has consistently evil actions was more valiant than a saintly person who is in a poor part of the world.

9/20/2012 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Stanton S:  According to Spencer W. Kimball, the Lord gives the authority to judge and condemn His authorized servants only to the regularly constituted councils of the Church and not to man generally.

In my previous comment, I intentionally used two quotes that teach the same thing about man's journey from premortality into mortality.

Perhaps you should consider that the Harold B. Lee quote has been published under the direction of current Church leaders in two different manuals during the past decade. And the Gospel Principles manual was published by the Church only three years ago.

Let me just emphasize again that it isn't really important to me whether you agree with these or any other teachings of the Church. But I think all of us ought to heed more often the wise counsel of a Pharisee named Gamaliel who cautioned moderation when criticizing the apostles "lest haply ye be found even to fight against God" (Acts 5:39).

9/20/2012 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

I agree with the Gospel Principles quote. We are put on earth at a time and in a place where we have the best chance at returning to the celestial kingdom. No one is set up for failure based on some assumption that they weren't "faithful enough" in the pre-earth life.

That quote could be construed to have the opposite meaning of President Lee's quote. That is, those who were most valiant were born into more difficult circumstances on earth because Heavenly Father knew that they could handle it, while those that need a little extra care could be born into more favorable circumstances.

9/21/2012 06:04:00 PM  

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