August 6, 2014

The following comment was left on the post "How to mix LDS theology and human evolution":

[Sicut-part 1 of 3]

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

> These ideas, that man is basically an animal and that humans are only advanced animals, are both scientifically correct.

Your statement (not Elder Packer's statements) over-reaches the science and thereby creates tension where there is none. Allow me to explain. *Science* states that humans *are* animals. To quote from wikipedia: "an animal is a a multi-cellular, eukaryotic organism of the kingdom Animalia... All animals must ingest other organisms or their products for sustenance". That we *are* animals is indisputable and strongly resonates with every piece of scientific evidence that has been gathered on the subject. Do you have reproducible data to suggest an alternative classification?

What Elder Packer is referring to is a "secular doctrine" and "philosophy", namely that we are *only* animals. His word choice is important. He's not talking about science in these quotes, but a metaphysical/supernatural idea--the idea that we are not children of God. Our spiritual heritage is, at least to my knowledge, a truth that lies beyond the purview of science. Yes, D&C 93:7 says that "there is no such thing as immaterial matter" and that "all spirit is matter" but it also says that it can "only be discerned by purer eyes" which arguably puts spirit in a realm whereby it cannot be physically detected. And, even if you *could* detect spirit, it is an even more difficult proposition to scientifically decide if our Spirit came from God the Father (i.e., that we are spirit children of God). If you can come up with some tests whereby we could potentially falsify the idea that we are Spirit children of God, then I am happy to re-classify the proposition as a scientific and not a spiritual/supernatural/metaphysical one.

What we have established then, is that the proposition that "we are children of God" is not a scientific proposition at all! Science *does not* say that we are not children of God, and neither does it say that we are children of God. The statement lies outside the domain of science as we know it! At least in these quotes Elder Packer has issues with "secular doctrine", not science.

> This is not science

As discussed above, you are absolutely right that Peck is not talking science--he's talking about an event that lies outside the bounds of traditional science. It's not testable/falsifiable (at least I can't think of how).

[Sicut-part 2 of 3]

> and it is definitely not LDS theology.

Peck invokes a spirit/body duality that is very much in harmony with LDS theology and scripture (e.g. Jesus, "into thy hands I commend my spirit". Gen 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.", D&C 93:15 "And the spirit and the body are the soul of man".)

Your post provides no evidence to that it is not in harmony with LDS theology. The 1909 First Presidency statement says only that Adam is the primal parent of our *race*. The statement declines to use scientific terminology (like species), so there is ambiguity in how we map Adam onto our ancestry. The idea of Adam's body having been created is supported by lots of scripture and fits nicely within LDS theology. Many simply choose to ignore the evidence supporting this reconciliation because a few brethren had/have strong opinions on the matter, not because it isn't a good fit.

The editor of the 1910 Improvement Era, Joseph F. Smith, saw fit to publish this response to the question "In just what manner did the mortal bodies of Adam and Eve come into existence on this earth?"

"...Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time; whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God."

Hence, it would appear that Joseph F. Smith did not rule out the possibility for evolutionary origins of Adam's body (although he clearly had a strong opinion about how it happened).

[Sicut-part 3 of 3]

The underlying implication of this post (and the few vocal anti-evolutionists in the church) is that Adam's body could not have been created through evolutionary means because, they believe, that Adam is the *physical* offspring of God the Father (I'll call it the "Adam begotten" theory).

The irony is that *this* (that God is the physical father of Adam) is really terrible LDS theology!! Here are just a few of the issues:

1.) Jesus is "the only begotten Son": The scriptures are replete with the phrase "Only Begotten Son" referring to Jesus Christ (dozens if not more instances). Those who embrace the Adam begotten theory invented a new phrase to refer to Jesus Christ, calling him, "the only begotten in the Flesh". That way, Adam be begotten in a Spiritual creation. There's a big problem with this, though: The phrase "only begotten [of the Father] in the Flesh" is not found in the scriptures at all!

2.) Mosiah 26:23: "For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand." It cannot be made anymore clear that Jesus is speaking. He distinctly claims to be the creator of mankind. If God the Father is the father of our spirits, then Jesus *must* have participated in the creation of Adam's body ("formed of the dust"). This scripture makes no sense whatsoever with the Adam begotten theory.

3.) Luke 3:38 originally said: "Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God." Joseph Smith rewrote this in the Inspired Version to read: "And of Enos, and of Seth, and of Adam, who was formed of God, and the first man upon the earth." Here, Joseph Smith explicitly changes the phrase "which was the son of God" into "formed of God". If the Adam begotten theory is true, why did God inspire Joseph to change this verse?

4.) Abraham 5:7 "And the Gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit (that is, the manís spirit), and put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." The Gods (plural) responsible for creating the earth are the same ones responsible for creating mankind. Also, note that there is a distinct phase of creation detailed here (creating man from the dust and then, in a separate step, taking and putting his spirit into it). Finally, the temple ceremony backs up this interpretation ("Is man found upon the earth?... Jehovah, Michael, then let *us* go down and form man in our own likeness and in our own image... and put into them their spirit..." Again, the Adam begotten theory basically has to throw this verse and the temple ceremony in the trash can!

To conclude, I will note that Peck's reconciliation is quote harmonious with all four of the above scriptures/concepts. Your (implied) position is in direct contradiction with all of them. I will leave it to the readers of this blog as to which position is "definitely not LDS theology".