Monday, February 17, 2014

Mormon Monday: The Fall and the Theory of Evolution; Part 2 of The Plan of Salvation

Last Monday, I talked about the Premortal Life. I had intended last week to share what we Mormons call "The Plan of Salvation", but after teaching about it at church that Sunday, I decided there is far too much information to put all in one blog post. So, for the next few weeks, I'm going to share a little bit of the plan at a time.

Here's all the other parts:

So, this will be part 2 of The Plan of Salvation.

This actually is an awesomely timed blog, because a friend of mine just recently asked a question that I hope this blog will answer.

Most of the Christian world views The Fall of Adam and Eve as a tragic incident, if they believe that it occurred at all. They blame Adam and Eve for the fact that we have trials and our lives are hard. I've heard people say that if it wasn't for Adam and Eve, we would all be in the Garden of Eden still, living in paradise.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we view The Fall in an entirely different light. We view it as a integral part of our progression.

In the Garden, Adam and Eve were told that they could eat of any tree,
Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
That seems kind of contrary of God, doesn't it? Why would He put a tree in the Garden that would potentially doom his children. Wouldn't it have been better, if He truly was a loving Father to just leave the tree out of the Garden? Wouldn't everyone have been happy then?

There is actually a very logical reason that God placed the tree in the Garden.

This life is based upon choice. In order to experience joy, Adam and Eve had to experience sorrow. However in my person opinion, God is a perfect God who can only create perfection. Our doctrine states that in order for Adam and Eve to become capable of sinning, they had to choose to have the ability to sin. God could create a perfect tree that would change Adam and Eve into mortals, but He wouldn't make them imperfect himself. He knew that was necessary for them to learn and grow, but they had to choose to sin.

Adam and Eve, if they had not partaken of the tree would have lived forever in the Garden, knowing neither good or evil, sorrow or joy. You can't understand joy without experiencing sorrow. If Adam and Eve had never taken of the fruit, we would never have been born. As much as people want to believe that we would have all been living in paradise together, it was only after Adam and Eve left the Garden that they were able to have children and bring more souls into this mortal and fallen world.

God knew that The Fall was going to occur long before it happened. That is why He allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve. He also already had a plan in place to fix the mistakes that Adam was going to make. He had already chosen a Savior before the world was even created. 1 Corinthians 15: 22 says:
22 For as in aAdam all bdie, even so in cChrist shall all be made dalive.
We believe that Eve knew full well the choice that she was making and that she felt it was necessary in order for her to progress and for her children to exist. In fact, we honor Eve for her foresight. Yes, Satan did deceive her, but like always, the Father of Lies word's were falsehoods mixed with truth.

 We believe that the Fall truly did occur. We believe that Adam caused death, both physical and spiritual to come into this world. In next Monday's blog, I'll address the way that we can overcome the affects of the fall. We believe that Adam and Eve are our first parents and that they were created directly by God. Before the Fall they were innocent and there was no death on this Earth. The Fall affected all life on earth as well as the earth itself.

So, what about the theory of Evolution? What does LDS doctrine say about that?

Well, rather than answer that myself, I'm going to let you read from the writings of our leaders. The link to the manual where this information is found is here.

"In the world another theory of how things began is popularly held and widely taught. This theory, that of organic evolution, was generally developed from the writings of Charles Darwin. It puts forth different ideas concerning how life began and where man came from. In relation to this theory, the following statements should help you understand what the Church teaches about the Creation and the origin of man.
“It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was ‘the first man of all men’ (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our heavenly Father.” (First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], in Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 4:205.)
“Any theory that leaves out God as a personal, purposeful Being, and accepts chance as a first cause, cannot be accepted by Latter-day Saints. … That man and the whole of creation came by chance is unthinkable. It is equally unthinkable that if man came into being by the will and power of God, the divine creative power is limited to one process dimly sensed by mortal man.” (Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1:155.)
“I am grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father’s children there has been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the origin of man, that we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some of the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor is God our heavenly Father.” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1925, p. 33.)
“Of course, I think those people who hold to the view that man has come up through all these ages from the scum of the sea through billions of years do not believe in Adam. Honestly I do not know how they can, and I am going to show you that they do not. There are some who attempt to do it but they are inconsistent—absolutely inconsistent, because that doctrine is so incompatible, so utterly out of harmony, with the revelations of the Lord that a man just cannot believe in both.
“… I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory of the origin of man, and at the same time accept the plan of salvation as set forth by the Lord our God. You must choose the one and reject the other, for they are in direct conflict and there is a gulf separating them which is so great that it cannot be bridged, no matter how much one may try to do so. …
“… Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for, according to this theory, death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible. Are you prepared to believe such a thing as that?” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:141–42.)
(2-19) But what of the scientific evidence that supposedly contradicts these statements? Isn’t the evidence that all life evolved from a common source overwhelming? Harold G. Coffin, Professor of Paleontology and Research at the Geoscience Research Institute, Andrews University in Michigan, presented one scientist’s view of how life began. The following excerpts are from a pamphlet on the Creation written by Dr. Coffin.
“The time has come for a fresh look at the evidence Charles Darwin used to support his evolutionary theory, along with the great mass of new scientific information. Those who have the courage to penetrate through the haze of assumptions which surrounds the question of the origin of life will discover that science presents substantial evidence that creation best explains the origin of life. Four considerations lead to this conclusion.
“1.Life is unique.
 "2.Complex animals appeared suddenly.
 "3.Change in the past has been limited.
 “4.Change in the present is limited.
“Anyone interested in truth must seriously consider these points. The challenge they present to the theory of evolution has led many intelligent and honest men of science now living to reevaluate their beliefs about the origin of life.” (Coffin, Creation: The Evidence from Science, p. [1].)"

The article goes on to talk more about this, but you can follow the link at the top of the quotations if you want to read more.

Now back to me. Here's my question for you. Science itself states that they can never know anything perfectly. At best they can be 99.9% sure of something. However, if you were able to travel back in time and see for yourself if Adam and Eve really existed and you found out they did, wouldn't that knowledge be more definite than any scientific theory?

I know that God has been there and He knows everything that has occurred throughout the history of mankind. If you believe in God, and God says that Adam and Eve were the first parents of our race and all life began in a state of perfection where death did not exist, doesn't that trump anything that science has to say? Science doesn't really KNOW about anything. They're just guessing based upon what they find.

I believe that God uses true laws of science to accomplishes great things. However, there are many things that we, as humans with imperfect understanding, still do not comprehend. God could tell us how He had accomplished everything and why there are so many unexplained mysteries on our planet, but then where would faith come in? Things that occur without scientific explanation (that we can understand) are called miracles, and I testify that miracles do still occur in our day.

Ask yourself this. Do you believe in God and that He is all-knowing? If you answer yes, then trust him. Tolerate man's theories, but don't let them challenge your faith. Pray and seek guidance for yourself about questions you have. God will answer your prayers and bring you peace. Instead of turning to man and your own speculations, turn to the source of all knowledge.

I know that you will have increased understanding and your faith will be strengthened.

God lives, and He has a plan for this life. The Fall was necessary, and I'm so grateful for it. Without it, I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't have the opportunity to go through this life and learn and grow to become like my Heavenly Father. I testify that we are His spirit children, and like all children, we can become like our Father. Christ is the center of the Plan of Salvation, and through Him, all mankind can be saved.

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