Animal Death

As a believer in an “old earth” I feel often stumped about what to do with the presence of death before the fall. I wasn’t prepared for this answer from William Lane Craig.

The problem takes on a different level of complexity in light of Mormon scriptures.

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106 thoughts on “Animal Death

  1. The question is not well asked, then the answer is not necessarily correct.

    The problem is timing. The question only points “before Adam’s fall” and before it is understood anytime before an event. The question implies that the event of animal death happened in the Garden of Eden before Adam’s fall or around that time before Adam’s fall; when in truth the event of animal death that the interviewer is reporting happened 50 million years before Adam’s fall and even before the creation of this earth according to Bible chronology.

    According to Bible chronology Adam was created around 6,000 years ago, and we can estimate the Garden of Eden was also created around that time. The animal death event reported by the interviewer simply denies or contradicts the story of the creation of this earth and its ecosystem by God.

    Mr. Craig claims that believers are reading in between lines things that the Bible does not say. Well, truth is the Bible does not say many things; and in my personal opinion it is an incomplete and inaccurate account, so we are left to fill up the gaps reading in between lines. It is not the believers’ fault that the Bible is not a complete and an accurate account.

    According to Mormon doctrine, death came to this earth as a consequence of Adam’s fall. So animal death was not possible in the Garden of Eden and animals did not exist 50 million years before the Garden of Eden. Therefore these two events are not possible. It is either one or the other. Mr. Craig’s answer is trying to put Christians to accept both events which is inconsistent and incongruous with Bible doctrine.

    It is either creation by God according to the Bible that happened 6,000 years ago or the evolution of species according to the Theory of Evolution that happened millions of millions years ago.

  2. WLC is only expressing his own personal opinions and he is not necessarily right. Also, it is lame that he supports his personal opinions based on other’s opinions. The fact that the Roman Catholic Church agrees with some form of evolution does not validate the point. The fact that “most Christians” agree with Darwin’s theories, does not validate the point.

    WLC accuses that “only conservative Christians” have problems with the theory of evolution. Instead of saying that “true Christians” have such a problem. Simply speaking if you believe in evolution, you are denying the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ’s Atonement was made to fix Adam’s fall. If Adam never existed because we came from an evolutionary process, then it is totally unnecessary for Jesus Christ to come to atone for Adam’s fall and consequently for our sins. There is no reason for a Jesus Christ if Adam never existed; and if Jesus never was the Christ, our faith is in vain and the whole New Testament is a total fabrication.

    Therefore, I prefer to be a Mormon who is among the few “conservative Christians” than agreeing with most Christians and be in conflict with what I know is true.

  3. Carlos,

    Just a warning, most of what you are using to justify your conclusions here are based on the writings/teachings of Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Bruce R. McConkie. The LDS church is currently in the process of slowly ignoring, downgrading, and in some cases denying much of what they taught. While you can of course believe anything you want, don’t be surprised if at some point your views no longer find support within the LDS hierarchy or doctrine (such as it is).

  4. David,
    Thanks for the warning, but in no case I have made any reference or based any of my opinions on writings or teachings of LDS leaders. I quoted Bible Chronology and Bible chronology is not based on LDS doctrine.

    Therefore, your comment that I have based my conclusions on LDS leaders’ teachings is spurious, vain and misleading to some other readers that may not be aware of what LDS leaders teach.

    Also, all what I have done in here is to state the biblical doctrine on the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to 2 Cor. 15: 21 and 22:

    21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
    22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

    Consequently, if Adam did not exist (because of the theory of evolution), neither the Christ and if the Christ did not atone for Adam’s sins and our sins, then, Christianism is false, a total fabrication. And again, this is not based on writings from LDS leaders, whoever they may be.

    Also, truth is truth and does not change and does not need to be supported by anybody or anything to be true. If one day the LDS hierarchy chooses to preach a different thing, it will be their problem, not mine. The truth that Jesus is the Christ who atoned for Adam’s fall will never change regardless of time, place or space.

  5. Carlos,

    How do you come to the conclusion that Bible chronology proves out that Adam was created 6,000 yeas before the fall?

  6. Tim said:

    The problem takes on a different level of complexity in light of Mormon scriptures.

    Only if you think of them all as literal. Contrary to what Carlosbyu proclaims, to say “if you believe in evolution, you are denying the Atonement of Jesus Christ” is setting up a false dichotomy.

    And rather than repeating what I wrote two years ago, I’ll link to it instead: Genesis 1-3: History or Allegory?

  7. gundek,

    You can start reading Genesis 5:1 – 32 and you will find the genealogy of all Adam’s descendants up to Noah.

    In Genesis chapter 10, you will find the genealogy from Noah through his sons’ descendants.

    In Genesis chapter 11, you will find Sem’s (one of Noah’s sons) descendants and that genealogy goes down up to Abraham.

    In Matthew Chapter 1, you will find the genealogy of all Abraham’s descendants down up to Jesus. If you have some patient and add the years (and the years for each generation are posted) you will add around 4,000 years from Adam to Jesus.

    Since the time of Jesus has passed 2,000 years. then we just need to simply add 4,000 + 2,000 to get 6,000 years has passed since Adam was cast out from the Garden of Eden.

    Obviously, if we are the product of evolution and Adam never existed, all of these genealogical records are simply a fabrication, but most important Jesus was never the Christ, he was only a great master teachings morals but he was never the Savior, because if Adam did not fall, there is no need of any atonement.

    But Adam did exist and he did fall and therefore Christ atoned for Adam’s fall, that is why I believe in Jesus to be my Savior and Redeemer. Therefore, I totally discard the theory of evolution.

  8. Carlos,

    What about the internal evidence that Biblical genealogies are incomplete? My point is since it really cannot be augured that the Biblical complete, why is it safe to assume that their purpose is to be used as a cryptic calendar?

  9. Carlos himself says the following, above:

    Mr. Craig claims that believers are reading in between lines things that the Bible does not say. Well, truth is the Bible does not say many things; and in my personal opinion it is an incomplete and inaccurate account, so we are left to fill up the gaps reading in between lines. It is not the believers’ fault that the Bible is not a complete and an accurate account.

    And then he makes a timeline extrapolated from Biblical geneology the hill that his faith dies on.

  10. gundek,

    Now, you are agreeing with me when I said before:

    “Well, truth is the Bible does not say many things; and in my personal opinion it is an incomplete and inaccurate account, so we are left to fill up the gaps reading in between lines. It is not the believers’ fault that the Bible is not a complete and an accurate account.”

    Even though if the bible chronology is not complete or accurate, in any case, the void will not excuse the difference between 6,000 years and 50 million years needed according to the theory of evolution.

  11. This is an interesting discussion that was the subject of one of the more prominent theological disagreements that was resolved by the First Presidency.

    B.H. Roberts, one of the more prominent early LDS intellectuals,and LDS Apostles Joseph Fielding Smith in 1930 held divergent views. Smith was a young-earth creationist, Roberts had a view that reconciled biblical history with evolutionary theories.The First Presidency diffused the debate by, wisely, taking no official position on the debate:

    Both parties [i.e., Elders Smith and Roberts] make the scripture and the statements of men who have been prominent in the affairs of the Church the basis of their contention; neither has produced definite proof in support of his views. . . We can see no advantage to be gained by a continuation of the discussion to which reference is here made, but on the contrary are certain that it would lead to confusion, division and misunderstanding if carried further. Upon one thing we should all be able to agree namely, that presidents Joseph F. Smith, John Winder and Anthon Lund were right when they said: “Adam is the primal parent of our race.

    Today, the theory of evolution is explicitly taught in BYU biology classes. Most LDS I know are not young-earth creationists, but the church does not discourage the young-earth view either. But in my experience, the topic is generally avoided in official publications. This remains an area where true-believing LDS can have very wide ranging views.

  12. Carlos,

    I don’t think I am a big promoter of evolution but since we agree on so much, I wonder why 6,000 years and not 50 million? We don’t know how incomplete the biblical genealogies are, we don’t know how long Adam was in the Garden. I think we can be pretty sure that the genealogies were not intended to be a calendar. Taking into account everything we don’t know I find it difficult to insist that Adam was created 6,000 years ago or Jesus is simply a great master teachings morals.

  13. This remains an area where true-believing LDS can have very wide ranging views.

    Indeed. And, in fact, BYU professor Steve Peck has been an outspoken advocate of evolution. Here’s a tidbit of his from here:

    Reading creationist literature to learn about evolution is like reading 19th Century anti-Mormon literature to find out about the LDS Church: It’s outdated, wrong, and frankly so juvenilely lacking any scientific merit that you have to be fairly scientifically uniformed to be taken in by it. … Science and Mormonism are the yin and yang of earthly knowledge. Both important. Both complement each other. Those who argue you must choose between them are missing something important.

  14. Eric,

    Obviously, when Professor Peck states:

    “Those who argue you must choose between them are missing something important.”

    He is just sharing his own personal opinions, I simply disagree with him.

    About this comment:

    “Today, the theory of evolution is explicitly taught in BYU biology classes.”

    BYU biology classes are not religion classes, but science classes. It is consist and congruent for a biology class in BYU to teach science instead of religion. That cannot be construed as a recognition of science over religious doctrine. If you tell me that a religion class at BYU teaches evolutionism, that would be a different story, but the case is that such a thing does not happen.

    Religious classes at BYU teach creationism as written in the scriptures.

  15. Carlos,

    Religious classes at BYU teach that Paul meant death in general or just death for humans in particular in 2 Cor. 15: 21 and 22?

  16. I think the genealogy argument had so many holes in it that it detracts from a more pertinent challenge that Carlos presents. Does Jesus view Adam as a literal and historical figure?

  17. Now we have Tim also acknowledging that the Bible in spite of being the word of God has “so many holes” to the point of becoming unreliable in this discussion. Interesting, very interesting!

    Tim, I do not have a direct answer to your question if Jesus saw Adam as a literal and historical figure, because again, in this case, even in doctrine the Bible has “so many holes”. Therefore we need to interpret the Bible and every person is entitled to his or her own interpretations.

    According to my own personal interpretation the answer is “yes” Jesus saw Adam as a literal and historical figure.

  18. gundek,

    According to LDS doctrine and our understanding of 1 Cor.15: 21,22 Paul meant death in general. Not only Adam and Eve became mortal beings but the whole creation (including plants and animals)

  19. gundek,

    Your words:

    “We don’t know how incomplete the biblical genealogies are, we don’t know how long Adam was in the Garden. I think we can be pretty sure that the genealogies were not intended to be a calendar.”

    True, we don’t know, nobody knows, all what we can do is to speculate, trying to fill up the gaps. On the other hand, I never said that the genealogies were intended to be a calendar. But facts are facts. They are written in the Bible, use them whatever way you want.

    Another fact, regardless if we like it or not, is that the Holy Bible is not a complete nor an accurate account, either in history or doctrine. It is very controversial and inconsistent in many parts. A simple reading of the Bible will expose this fact.

  20. Now we have Tim also acknowledging that the Bible in spite of being the word of God has “so many holes” to the point of becoming unreliable in this discussion. Interesting, very interesting!

    Yeah, that’s not what Tim said at all. Try again.

    Therefore we need to interpret the Bible and every person is entitled to his or her own interpretations.

    According to my own personal interpretation the answer is “yes” Jesus saw Adam as a literal and historical figure.

    “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Pet. 1:20–21.

    According to LDS doctrine and our understanding of 1 Cor.15: 21,22 Paul meant death in general.

    Okay, but LDS doctrine is wrong. Your interpretation is not only not necessarily evident from the plain meaning of the text, but it rests on sources that I reject as authoritative.

    Another fact, regardless if we like it or not, is that the Holy Bible is not a complete nor an accurate account, either in history or doctrine. It is very controversial and inconsistent in many parts. A simple reading of the Bible will expose this fact.

    Poppycock. Everything necessary for your salvation is set down clearly in the Bible in one place or another. Every doctrine necessary for God’s glory, man’s salvation, faith and the Christian life can either be found explicitly in the Bible or inferred from the Bible.

    Genealogical issues, if indeed there are any, notwithstanding.

  21. According to LDS doctrine and our understanding of 1 Cor.15: 21,22 Paul meant death in general. Not only Adam and Eve became mortal beings but the whole creation (including plants and animals)

    BTW, this is what I meant when I said that in Mormonism these ideas trace back to Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Bruce R. McConkie. 1 Cor 15:21-22 can be interpreted in this way and historically has been interpreted this way by the aforementioned general authorities.

    Carry on.

  22. The problem is that, without first establishing the authoritative weight of Joseph F. Smith’s, Joseph Fielding Smith’s and Bruce R. McConkie’s pronouncements on the matter, Carlos is begging the question.

  23. Tim asked:

    Does Jesus view Adam as a literal and historical figure?

    I have no idea, although Paul certainly did.

    At least in the Bible, Jesus says nothing about Adam or Eve. He does, however, refer to Genesis and affirm that God created male and female.

  24. I’m not sure why I feel the need to defend myself. . . . but here is my statement. I don’t believe I mentioned the Bible.

    I think the genealogy argument had so many holes in it

  25. Kullervo, these are your words:

    “Okay, but LDS doctrine is wrong. Your interpretation is not only not necessarily evident from the plain meaning of the text, but it rests on sources that I reject as authoritative.”

    You are entitled to your own personal opinions about LDS doctrine and that not necessarily means you are right. You are entitled to your own personal opinions about LDS doctrine no matter how wrong they may be. You are entitled to reject as authoritative whatever you want, that does not mean such authority is not valid or lost because you reject it.

    Your words:

    “Everything necessary for your salvation is set down clearly in the Bible in one place or another. Every doctrine necessary for God’s glory, man’s salvation, faith and the Christian life can either be found explicitly in the Bible or inferred from the Bible.”

    This is also your personal opinion about the Bible, which is respectable but not necessarily true. Sure you can find “explicitly in the Bible” ways to be saved, but there are also voids that you have to fill up by “inferring from the Bible” In other words, you are also acknowledging that the Bible has gaps in the doctrine of salvation that we need “to fill up by inferring from the Bible” Sorry to see you contradict yourself, but that is Ok. you are entitled to whatever you want to believe and say in this discussion.

    Your words:

    “The problem is that, without first establishing the authoritative weight of Joseph F. Smith’s, Joseph Fielding Smith’s and Bruce R. McConkie’s pronouncements on the matter, Carlos is begging the question”

    In none of my words I have quoted any of those past LDS leaders, why? because there is no need of such. All what I have done is to quote from the Bible and I have interpreted those verses according to LDS doctrine which was not was revealed by any of the LDS leaders you are mentioning. So, it is totally unnecessary to quote any particular LDS leader either dead or alive on this issue, since the Bible by itself is enough to clarify this issue.

    Truth to be truth does not need any support of any person. Truth holds itself independently of people, time, place or space. If it is found in the Bible, it is true not because it is found in the Bible. Truth does not need to be in the Bible to be true. Also, not every principle of truth is found in the Bible, Neither the Bible was written to hold every principle of truth.

  26. David Clark,

    Your words:

    “BTW, this is what I meant when I said that in Mormonism these ideas trace back to Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Bruce R. McConkie. 1 Cor 15:21-22 can be interpreted in this way and historically has been interpreted this way by the aforementioned general authorities.”

    David, these ideas trace further back to Joseph Smith, Jr. those aforementioned general authorities only repeated LDS doctrine as restored and taught by Joseph Smith, that is why I said “According to LDS doctrine” and there was no need to quote any LDS past leader.

    You are entitled to agree or disagree with Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the Bible.

  27. This is also your personal opinion about the Bible, which is respectable but not necessarily true.

    Nope, it’s definitely true. And it’s not just my opinion.

    Sure you can find “explicitly in the Bible” ways to be saved, but there are also voids that you have to fill up by “inferring from the Bible” In other words, you are also acknowledging that the Bible has gaps in the doctrine of salvation that we need “to fill up by inferring from the Bible” Sorry to see you contradict yourself, but that is Ok. you are entitled to whatever you want to believe and say in this discussion.

    No contradiction at all. The whole counsel of God concerning his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life is either explicitly in the Bible or can be inferred from the Bible (PS if the Bible has all of the facts you need to make an inference, that’s not actually the same thing as “gaps in doctrine”), but everything you need for salvation is explicitly in the Bible. The one is a sub-set of the other.

    PS, I think that we all know that we are entitled to believe whatever we want and entitled to have any opinion we want, so you can stop saying that over and over again. It doesn’t add anything to the discussion.

  28. David, these ideas trace further back to Joseph Smith, Jr. those aforementioned general authorities only repeated LDS doctrine as restored and taught by Joseph Smith

    Prove it. Give us a quote or a citation.

  29. Carlos,

    Why do you expect Joseph Smith or Jesus or Paul to have anything close to an accurate understanding of the origins of organic life? (Especially when there is no question they had a deficient understanding of physics, genetics, or chemistry.)

  30. I am interested if Evangelicals and Mormons agree on this much– “Adam is the primal parent of our race”

    If so, do they have different definitions of “Adam”?

  31. Carlosbyu: Could you please tell me where Joseph Smith gave an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:21-22? Thanks.

    Jared C asked:

    I am interested if Evangelicals and Mormons agree on this much– “Adam is the primal parent of our race”

    What do you mean by primal parent? Are you talking about the first human biologically, or something else?

  32. I am not sure what it means. That is the consensus language agreed upon by both Joseph F. Smith and B.H. Roberts. I really have no clue how to make any sense of Adam as a historical reality.

  33. carlos – young earth creationism is not the official position of the LDS church. We’ve been much more squeamish about declaring *anything* definitive at all about the historicity of Adam, death before the Fall etc. – in the last 40+ years. Pinning us for side stepping the issue is about the best one can do.

    Tim, back to the OP, I quite like the way Enns fleshes out the Paul/Adam problem for Evangelicals. And WLC is much more thoughtful of a commentator than I once thought. Rash, preconceived notions shattered.

    The problem takes on a different level of complexity in light of Mormon scriptures.

    If you’re referring to the Book of Moses or other revealed versions of the Bible by JS, I will say that most people, especially Mormons misunderstand what the Book of Moses/JST is in the first place. To get to the point: A JS translation of a parable of Jesus – does not make the parable suddenly historical. Likewise, a JS version of The Fall does not suddenly make Genesis a literal/historical account of how things played out.

  34. Pingback: Can There Be Imputed Sin Without A Historical Adam? | Sailing to Byzantium

  35. Carlos said:
    “Religious classes at BYU teach creationism as written in the scriptures.”

    Mormons have at least 4 different scriptural accounts of creation. This seems to manifestly demonstrate that the scriptural accounts are not literal or scientific and attempt to relate spiritual/symbolic truths about creation rather than recount actual historical events.

  36. Do you believe in Pre-Adamic existence of humans? What kind of things are they? Are any still around?

    I am not trying to be confrontational, but the OP opens up a lot of conundrums that are not easily resolved by simply pointing to the fact that Catholics have a (slightly?) more coherent account of human origins than fundamentalist protestants and Mormons.

  37. To be honest I liked geography more than biology in highschool. I am more of old earth don’t think much about evolution supernatural creation kind of guy. Adam seems consistent with a belief in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

  38. In the words of my freshman early morning Old Testament classmate, “But they found bones!!” Denying archaeological/scientific evidences of human evolution has always looked strange to me. I can believe in a historical Adam, as long as we don’t confuse the Genesis account with modern notions of “history”.

  39. When I think about evolution, the historical Adam and the fall as Paul explains it in the Bible and as the scientist explains it I see two understandings. First a natural explanation explained by evolution and I think we have to admit there are issues with what scientists tell us and what Paul tells us, Paul just doesn’t address the questions the scientists ask.

    Second, we see what Paul explains about the Fall and the Lords revelations and I don’t think science even attempts to answer the questions that Paul is answering.

    I don’t know that I can give a particularly good answer to the scientist. They are as we say outside of my lane. What keeps me turning back to Paul is that the scientist simply cannot provide either a cause or a solution for the problem.

    I have seen the fall in war, in all of its infinite effect. I have been to war and seen what the fall has produced. As I see it someone who looks for an explanation in evolution misses the totality of the problem. The answer evolution provides doesn’t even attempt to approach to seriousness of the issue.

  40. Christian,

    “carlos – young earth creationism is not the official position of the LDS church”

    Obviously it is not.The official position of the LDS church is more inclined to gap creationism. LDS doctrine about creationism is unique. Even the meaning of the verb: “to create” is different. We believe that “to create” means “to organize” or at least that is our doctrinal understanding of the verb “to create”.

    We believe that God organized existent matter to create this earth. We believe that God did not create matter, we believe that God cannot create matter, that matter cannot be created and matter cannot be destroyed, it always existed and it will always exist. It can be transformed, and that is what God does, He transforms and organize matter to create worlds and populate them. We believe God has created innumerable worlds and populate them with his children, but regardless of how many worlds he has populated, there is only one Savior and Redeemer for all of those worlds, who is Jesus Christ.

    According to LDS doctrine God did not create this earth out of nothing (“Ex nihilo creation”).

    So, the matter of this earth always existed.

    Now, it is my personal opinion that this earth may have been inhabited millions of years ago and the forms of life that existed at that time became extinct and finally the whole earth was desolated and abandoned until God again used the same matter to organize a new earth and populate it again this time putting Adam and Eve on this earth. The account of Genesis then would report about those latter events, but not the previous ones, if they ever happened. This is speculation derived from LDS doctrine, but speculation as it is, it may explain why fossils are found that are dated millions of years ago.

  41. “Heavenly Father made earth out of pieces of other planets so thats why there are dinosaur bones” is one of my favorite insane Mormon folk doctrines, along with “Cain is Bigfoot” and “there are six-foot Quakers on the Moon.”

    When you start out with heretical premises, you inevitably wander down strange paths.

  42. When you start out with heretical premises, you inevitably wander down strange paths.

    Which is why orthodox Christianity was never in need of a Reformation right?

  43. carlos, Mormonism is built on the radical idea of doctrinal wiggle room – er- continuing revelation. Embrace it! Let science teach about science and the scriptures teach us about God. There’s no need to place modern notions of history onto a document that was never intended to be.

  44. Carlosbyu said:

    The official position of the LDS church is more inclined to gap creationism.

    Source? As far as I can tell, the “official position” is that there is none, except perhaps that Adam and Eve are the “primal parents,” whatever that means, of the human race. I have never seen anything from any LDS leader supporting the so-called gap theory. Could you point to one?

    Kullervo asked:

    Tim, do you care to comment on my blog post re: Romans 5 and imputed sin?

    I don’t know about Tim, but I’ll comment briefly just to say that I don’t see LDS teaching as quite as Pelagian as you do. True, we don’t use the phrase “sinful nature” very much, but we do talk about the “natural man,” and I don’t see that as much different. Adam still gets quite a bit of the blame for the situation we’re in. Maybe semi-Pelagian? Beyond that, I don’t see the doctrine of imputed sin so readily, but I’m curious enough now that I will give Romans 5 some further study.
    .
    Tim said:

    I’m an evangelical who believes in inerrancy and I don’t necessarily believe Adam is a historical figure.

    That makes sense to me in the case of interpreting Genesis because it’s written more as mythology than history. But I have a hard time squaring inerrancy and an allegorical Adam with the writings of Paul. I’m fine with believing that Paul’s writings were inspired even if mistaken about history, but his argument seems to based so much on history that I’d have a hard time applying the label “inerrant” to it. I think I’m saying the same thing that Kullervo suggests on his blog, that Paul’s position hinges on historicity. (If I’m misinterpreting Kullervo I’m sure he’ll let me know.) Throw away Adam, and you throw away inerrancy, or at least change its meaning to something than what it traditionally has meant.

  45. Eric,

    What can be more official than the Mormon canon of the scriptures. In D&C 93:33 we read “Elements are eternal” Therefore there was no ex nihilo creation. If elements are eternal, there cannot be created, they cannot be destroyed, they always existed.

    Also, in D&C 76: 24 we read “That by him (Jesus Christ), and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

    We don’t need a LDS leader giving a speech about this to validate what it is in the canon. It does not work that way. The canon validates what speakers say, not the other way around.

    The Canon is official doctrine and its doctrine does not need to be validated by anyone.

  46. ICarlosbyu: I wasn’t disputing creation ex materia. I was disputing your position that the “official position of the LDS church is more inclined to gap creationism.” Your response doesn’t address the gap theory at all.

  47. Eric,

    It is obvious.

    If matter is eternal, then it always existed and since we believe God “organized” this earth from previous matter, we can conclude that this approach is similar to the gap theory that says this earth was reconstructed after millions of years, reconstructed of what? Of previous matter.

  48. Carlosbyu said regarding the gap theory:

    It is obvious.

    Obvious only if you make numerous unwarranted assumptions (including having a God that created things in such a way that we’d be deceived about how things came about) and only if you ignore biology, archaeology and geology.

    Jared C is right.

  49. Jared,

    Thanks for sharing your own personal opinions about gap theory.

    Eric,

    Thanks for sharing your own personal opinions about Jared’s personal opinions. I disagree.

  50. Well Carlos, the most important thing I learned as a Mormon was that I didn’t have to believe anything that wasn’t true. I hope we can agree on that.

  51. Tim, do you care to comment on my blog post re: Romans 5 and imputed sin?

    I’m not sure I have a comprehensive answer which is why I think it’s the more pertinent question and the one Carlos should focus on. I really liked your post though. If I gain some time to think about it I’ll try to give you an answer.

  52. This is one of the great things about not being a Biblical literalist.

    We don’t have to focus on how, and all the pitfalls that occur when you go down those cul de sacs…but rather on Who. And His great love for the ungodly.

  53. Carlos, in order for fossils to have come from older worlds that God reorganized into our Earth, that would have to mean that God literally took giant pieces of other planets, entirely intact, and smooshed them together to make a new planet.

    That is almost too stupid to even be talking about.

  54. @kullervo “That is almost too stupid to even be talking about”

    This is what many say of Genesis.

    @oldadam “This is one of the great things about not being a Biblical literalist.

    We don’t have to focus on how, and all the pitfalls that occur when you go down those cul de sacs…but rather on Who. And His great love for the ungodly.”

    His love for those, except for the unbelievers like me who are sliding slowly to hell.

    If what you are always saying is true, making the ‘important’ parts of the Bible believable in light of the clearly unbelievable parts seems to be a critical challenge for those who claim to love the ungodly in any way similar to the God they believe in.

  55. Kullervo,

    “That is almost too stupid to even be talking about.”

    Thanks for sharing your own personal opinions, I disagree with you.

    This is what I said:

    “Now, it is my personal opinion that this earth may have been inhabited millions of years ago and the forms of life that existed at that time became extinct and finally the whole earth was desolated and abandoned until God again used the same matter to organize a new earth and populate it again, this time putting Adam and Eve on this earth. The account of Genesis then would report about those latter events, but not the previous ones, if they ever happened. This is speculation derived from LDS doctrine, but speculation as it is, it may explain why fossils are found that are dated millions of years ago.”

    I never meant that “God literally took giant pieces of other planets, entirely intact, and smooshed them together to make a new planet.” Not even I suggested that idea.

    Jared,

    According to LDS doctrine, you won’t go to hell. Unbelievers go to the Telestial Kingdom, which is the lowest condition of Salvation, but still a nice place to be actually. So you are still lucky.

  56. Now, it is my personal opinion that this earth may have been inhabited millions of years ago and the forms of life that existed at that time became extinct and finally the whole earth was desolated and abandoned until God again used the same matter to organize a new earth and populate it again, this time putting Adam and Eve on this earth.

    Ok but then that means God didn’t “use the same matter to organize a new earth.” That means he just took the old earth and put new things on it. Which, by the way, is not what it says happened in any of the Mormon creation accounts (Genesis 1, Genesis 3, Moses or the endowment ceremony).

  57. According to LDS doctrine, you won’t go to hell. Unbelievers go to the Telestial Kingdom, which is the lowest condition of Salvation, but still a nice place to be actually. So you are still lucky.

    You may notice that Jared C is addressing theoldadam, who is not LDS. They’re not talking about LDS doctrine. Neither of them believes that LDS doctrine is true. Jared C is (as far as I know) an ex-Mormon atheist, and is speaking rhetorically to theoldadam about theoldadam’s (conservative but not confessional Lutheran) beliefs.

  58. Kullervo,

    “That means he just took the old earth and put new things on it.”

    Speaking in broad terms, I can also agree with that, but creating a new earth does not mean just to put new things on it, it means more, like to put it in the right position in the space to create the conditions to sustain life, which includes to put it in orbit in relation to a source of light and so many more details. Well, as I said before, it is my personal opinion/speculation based on the doctrine that matter is eternal.

    Also, In Abraham 3:22, 24, 25 in the Pearl of Great Price, we read:

    “22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

    24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

    25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;”

    The creation account of the endowment ceremony is also based on these verses. So the “ex nihilo creation” is totally discarded in LDS doctrine.

  59. I guess the question for me is: If God was using pre-existing elements to create the earth we inhabit, why didn’t he break the dinosaur bones down to the most basic and unrecognizable forms? Why leave them in tact at all?

  60. The carlos-theory is actually pretty easy to disprove geologically. But, I have to agree, its barely worth discussing.

    Tim, you’re leaning into a great point – Unless you believe that God intentionally places fragments of pre-adamite evidence into the earth to make us doubt the Holy Scriptures (a very strange tactic) then there must be something else going on. HINT: God sees no tension between what we have in scripture and the evidence that we find scientifically. God’s revelations don’t have to be squeezed into the world of the scientific method for them to be valid or inspired.

  61. I guess the question for me is: If God was using pre-existing elements to create the earth we inhabit, why didn’t he break the dinosaur bones down to the most basic and unrecognizable forms? Why leave them in tact at all?

    Lazy, I guess.

  62. Tim,

    That a good question for God, I am sure he knows the answer.

    My personal opinion is that this life is a test of faith. Most things on this earth are not clear, even worse, they point out in another direction (away from believing in God). We look for explanations and we struggle to get them, like in this case about the creation of this earth.

  63. So you’re saying that, in order to test our faith, God purposely hid a bunch of fossils for us to find so that the earth would look like he hadn’t created it.

  64. Kullervo,

    If the “Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us,m and thereby uniting us to Christ”, wouldn’t it be inconsistent to then tempt people away from the same faith?

    On the other hand if faith is a blind leap, testing faith with dinosaur bones could mame since.

    Disclaimer: this is only the opinion of gundek, that he is entitled to.

  65. If the “Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us,m and thereby uniting us to Christ”, wouldn’t it be inconsistent to then tempt people away from the same faith?

    What about 1 Peter 1:6-7?

  66. I think that both Peter and James are writing about testing or proving our faith to ourselves. They do not appear to be saying that life is a test where we prove our faith to God but that the tests in life prove to us that we have faith. I think we see the same idea in Paul’s second letter to Timothy

    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

  67. Jared,

    “If what you are always saying is true, making the ‘important’ parts of the Bible believable in light of the clearly unbelievable parts seems to be a critical challenge for those who claim to love the ungodly in any way similar to the God they believe in.”

    Not at all. Not necessary.

    We can’t convince, cajole, shoehorn, entice people into believing.

    The Lord creates faith, when and where He wills…through the hearing of the gospel message.

  68. I don’t know about Tim, but I’ll comment briefly just to say that I don’t see LDS teaching as quite as Pelagian as you do. True, we don’t use the phrase “sinful nature” very much, but we do talk about the “natural man,” and I don’t see that as much different. Adam still gets quite a bit of the blame for the situation we’re in. Maybe semi-Pelagian?

    Eric, I meant to respond to this–I think that if you asked Mormons to articulate what they believe about the effecvts of the fall and Man’s sinfulness and ability to keep God’s law, you would get answers ranging from the Pelagian to the semi-Pelagian. I think that the “natural man,” depending on how you interpret that passage, is indeed pretty close to a corrupted nature, if not the same thing.

    But imputation of Adam’s sin is definitely ruled out by a number of Mormon doctrines and pronouncements that directly contradict it.

  69. Tim,
    Those 7,000 years are including the 1,000 years after the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. According to D&C 77:6,7 each seal represents 1,000 years.The seven seal is open with the Second Coming and it will last 1,000 years as well. Therefore, since Adam’s fall we roughly count 6,000 years, like I said at the beginning of this dialog and it matches with the chronology of the Bible.

  70. Kullervo is right in relation to his comment of the six 24-hour periods. I have been a Mormon for over 33 years and I have never heard anybody to teach that the earth was created in six 24-hour periods. The contrary is true, I always received the teaching that each day of Genesis 1 COULD be 1,000 years, since for God 1,000 years in man’s time is equal to one day for God.

    Another teaching is that “we don’t know exactly” how long one day according to Genesis 1 was, we prefer to call them “six periods of creation” rather than “six days”, and for sure we don’t know how long each period was, not even if they were the same amount of time.

    We also speculate that the duration of every period could be different each time. Basically, we don’t know and we speculate about that, but certainly we don’t believe they were 24-hours periods according to man’s time.

  71. Kullervo is right in relation to his comment of the six 24-hour periods. I have been a Mormon for over 33 years and I have never heard anybody to teach that the earth was created in six 24-hour periods. The contrary is true, I always received the teaching that each day of Genesis 1 COULD be 1,000 years, since for God 1,000 years in man’s time is equal to one day for God.

    Another teaching is that “we don’t know exactly” how long one day according to Genesis 1 was, we prefer to call them “six periods of creation” rather than “six days”, and for sure we don’t know how long each period was, not even if they were the same amount of time.

    We also speculate that the duration of every period could be different each time. Basically, we don’t know and we speculate about that, but certainly we don’t believe they were 24-hours periods according to man’s time.

    That’s basically exactly how I would have explained it as a believing Mormon.

  72. That is how it is explained in Sunday School. I think that this sort of explanation is as laughably implausible vis-a-vis contemporary understandings of evolution of matter to life as God putting together the planet using pieces of another. As a Mormon, I came to believe that the historical accuracy of creation theories didn’t matter at all in the religious contexts. As long as I believed that the creation explanation was from God, I could also believe evolution, as long as I kept them separate, never discussing the both at the same time.

  73. Tim,
    The church can accept or repudiate whatever they want, I don’t really care. Facts are facts and they won’t change because the LDS Church either accepts or repudiates them. I support facts, not opinions, it does not matter where they are coming from, opinions are opinions, I have every right to disagree to opinions, but I cannot disagree to facts.

  74. This seems like a clear gateway into cafeteria Mormonism. Isn’t every Jack Mormon sitting at home on Sunday mornings just declaring that the importance of the sacrament is just an opinion in which they differ with the institutional church? This isn’t just an opinion as far as I can tell.

    I’m always directed to LDS.org to find out what the church really teaches. Are you rejecting the church’s teachings? Is that even an option for believing Mormons?

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