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I understand that the church has no official position on the theory of evolution, and that members are free to believe what they will on the subject. The church does however, assert that Adam and Eve were real historical persons, the first children of God on the earth, and the primal parents of the entire human race.

The church's position regarding pre-adamites (humans who lived before the biblical time of Adam) is also neutral. The church neither confirms nor denies their existence. The same is true regarding the idea that there was no death on the earth prior to the fall; the church takes no official stance.

Though the church is neutral on the subject, fossil and archaeological evidence overwhelmingly point to the existence of pre-adamites and death prior to the fall, and I'm inclined to accept the validity of that evidence. Keep in mind that the church neither supports nor condemns me in doing so.

If you similarly choose to accept this evidence, I'm interested in how you reconcile the existence of pre-adamites with a literal, historical Adam and Eve. 

Perhaps Adam and Eve were the first humans only in the sense that they were the first children of God. Perhaps they were products of evolution, the apex of the pre-adamic race, and were merely the first of whom God breathed the breath of life into their nostrils. Perhaps they weren't created through the process of evolution, and the pre-adamites have no relation to them. Thoughts?

Whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that the best evidence available to us does seem to confirm the existence of pre-adamites.

Please let me know what you believe on this subject and why. I would also be very interested if you are aware of any theories advanced by church leaders, or really anyone else for that matter. Thanks!

EDIT: Apparently there is some disagreement on what the official doctrine of the church is on this subject. Some church leaders have expressed strong views that evolution is inconsistent with church teachings, and others have likewise expressed strong views that evolution is consistent with church teachings. I maintain that the church's official stance is neutral, which is what allows these church leaders to have their differences of opinion on the matter.

Here's a source from lds.org that affirms the church's neutral position:

"The Church has no official position on the theory of evolution. Organic evolution, or changes to species’ inherited traits over time, is a matter for scientific study. Nothing has been revealed concerning evolution." (https://www.lds.org/new-era/2016/10/to-the-point/what-does-the-church-believe-about-evolution?lang=eng)

Irregardless of the official church doctrine, I intended for this thread to be centered around what you think about evolution. Let's keep the discussion civil as we express our opinions on the subject. Thanks.

Edited by zlllch

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Hi @zlllch, and welcome to the forum!

You are 100% correct on your listing of official church positions (and non-positions).  

Speaking my personal opinion/beliefs, one of my professional hats is studying evolution-- which is a super cool job-- I literally get paid to examine God's fingerprints and marvels!   I find my professional work greatly strengthens my faith in the creator God, and my faith strengthens my professionalism.  Yes, I do believe God created everything and everyone- but that's not "created" like He just magically materialized it out of no where-- God in not a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  Rather, He is a carpenter, crafting stroke by stroke, line upon line.  And as an evolution scientist, I get to study/marvel at His crafting process.  In regards to human evolution specifically, again, Christ's a carpenter and crafts stroke by stroke.  Hence I have no problems seeing earlier versions of what would ultimately become the human race (things like Lucy)- in fact I think it's freaking awesome.  I do believe Adam and Eve are individuals refer to the spirits of Adam & Eve, which were placed into specific bodies, and hence begins the story of the human race.  

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9 hours ago, zlllch said:

I understand that the church has no official position on the theory of evolution, and that members are free to believe what they will on the subject. The church does however, assert that Adam and Eve were real historical persons, the first children of God on the earth, and the primal parents of the entire human race.

The church's position regarding pre-adamites (humans who lived before the biblical time of Adam) is also neutral. The church neither confirms nor denies their existence. The same is true regarding the idea that there was no death on the earth prior to the fall; the church takes no official stance.

Though the church is neutral on the subject, fossil and archaeological evidence overwhelmingly point to the existence of pre-adamites and death prior to the fall, and I'm inclined to accept the validity of that evidence. Keep in mind that the church neither supports nor condemns me in doing so.

If you similarly choose to accept this evidence, I'm interested in how you reconcile the existence of pre-adamites with a literal, historical Adam and Eve. 

Perhaps Adam and Eve were the first humans only in the sense that they were the first children of God. Perhaps they were products of evolution, the apex of the pre-adamic race, and were merely the first of whom God breathed the breath of life into their nostrils. Perhaps they weren't created through the process of evolution, and the pre-adamites have no relation to them. Thoughts?

Whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that the best evidence available to us does seem to confirm the existence of pre-adamites.

Please let me know what you believe on this subject and why. I would also be very interested if you are aware of any theories advanced by church leaders, or really anyone else for that matter. Thanks!

Howdy, @zlllch.

Yup.  I don't really like the term "Pre-adamites." It's highly imprecise and doesn't really express a clear meaning.  But yes, I believe evolution is compatible with creationism.  But the problem is that our knowledge of what happened thousands or millions of years ago is heavily into the speculative realm in both religious and archaeological circles.  I always think it's best to approach this issue with a healthy degree of "I don't know."

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1 hour ago, Jane_Doe said:

Hi @zlllch, and welcome to the forum!

You are 100% correct on your listing of official church positions (and non-positions).  

Speaking my personal opinion/beliefs, one of my professional hats is studying evolution-- which is a super cool job-- I literally get paid to examine God's fingerprints and marvels!   I find my professional work greatly strengthens my faith in the creator God, and my faith strengthens my professionalism.  Yes, I do believe God created everything and everyone- but that's not "created" like He just magically materialized it out of no where-- God in not a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  Rather, He is a carpenter, crafting stroke by stroke, line upon line.  And as an evolution scientist, I get to study/marvel at His crafting process.  In regards to human evolution specifically, again, Christ's a carpenter and crafts stroke by stroke.  Hence I have no problems seeing earlier versions of what would ultimately become the human race (things like Lucy)- in fact I think it's freaking awesome.  I do believe Adam and Eve are individuals refer to the spirits of Adam & Eve, which were placed into specific bodies, and hence begins the story of the human race.  

This is my belief as well. 

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12 hours ago, zlllch said:

I understand that the church has no official position on the theory of evolution, and that members are free to believe what they will on the subject. The church does however, assert that Adam and Eve were real historical persons, the first children of God on the earth, and the primal parents of the entire human race.

The church's position regarding pre-adamites (humans who lived before the biblical time of Adam) is also neutral. The church neither confirms nor denies their existence. The same is true regarding the idea that there was no death on the earth prior to the fall; the church takes no official stance.

Though the church is neutral on the subject, fossil and archaeological evidence overwhelmingly point to the existence of pre-adamites and death prior to the fall, and I'm inclined to accept the validity of that evidence. Keep in mind that the church neither supports nor condemns me in doing so.

If you similarly choose to accept this evidence, I'm interested in how you reconcile the existence of pre-adamites with a literal, historical Adam and Eve. 

Perhaps Adam and Eve were the first humans only in the sense that they were the first children of God. Perhaps they were products of evolution, the apex of the pre-adamic race, and were merely the first of whom God breathed the breath of life into their nostrils. Perhaps they weren't created through the process of evolution, and the pre-adamites have no relation to them. Thoughts?

Whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that the best evidence available to us does seem to confirm the existence of pre-adamites.

Please let me know what you believe on this subject and why. I would also be very interested if you are aware of any theories advanced by church leaders, or really anyone else for that matter. Thanks!

Contrary to some beliefs the church actually does have an official position in regards to Adam and Eve and the first humans on earth. The church has made it clear that its official teaching regarding Adam and Eve were not the result of a lower order of animal evolution. Neither was there death on the earth before the fall. Im not sure why LDS scholars such as those professors at BYU cont8nue to not acknowledge this fact.

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5 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

Contrary to some beliefs the church actually does have an official position in regards to Adam and Eve and the first humans on earth. The church has made it clear that its official teaching regarding Adam and Eve were not the result of a lower order of animal evolution. Neither was there death on the earth before the fall. Im not sure why LDS scholars such as those professors at BYU cont8nue to not acknowledge this fact.

Where is that?  I'd like to read it.

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12 hours ago, zlllch said:

I understand that the church has no official position on the theory of evolution, and that members are free to believe what they will on the subject. The church does however, assert that Adam and Eve were real historical persons, the first children of God on the earth, and the primal parents of the entire human race.

The church's position regarding pre-adamites (humans who lived before the biblical time of Adam) is also neutral. The church neither confirms nor denies their existence. The same is true regarding the idea that there was no death on the earth prior to the fall; the church takes no official stance.

Though the church is neutral on the subject, fossil and archaeological evidence overwhelmingly point to the existence of pre-adamites and death prior to the fall, and I'm inclined to accept the validity of that evidence. Keep in mind that the church neither supports nor condemns me in doing so.

If you similarly choose to accept this evidence, I'm interested in how you reconcile the existence of pre-adamites with a literal, historical Adam and Eve. 

Perhaps Adam and Eve were the first humans only in the sense that they were the first children of God. Perhaps they were products of evolution, the apex of the pre-adamic race, and were merely the first of whom God breathed the breath of life into their nostrils. Perhaps they weren't created through the process of evolution, and the pre-adamites have no relation to them. Thoughts?

Whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that the best evidence available to us does seem to confirm the existence of pre-adamites.

Please let me know what you believe on this subject and why. I would also be very interested if you are aware of any theories advanced by church leaders, or really anyone else for that matter. Thanks!

Several of us are examining these questions under the broader context of the Creation and Garden Stories. You are more than welcome to look in and participate in the discussion.

I should warn you, though, that it is not a doctrinal discussion, but rather the sharing of varied perspectives seen as if through a glass darkly. It is also a ponderous discussion in that we are on the third page of sharing and have yet to finish with Day One of the creation.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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"In the early 1900s, questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution became the subject of much public discussion. In the midst of these controversies, the First Presidency issued the following in 1909, which expresses the Church’s doctrinal position on these matters. A reprinting of this important First Presidency statement will be helpful as members of the Church study the Old Testament this year."

"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 declared 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."

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity."

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6 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

Nothing in this 1909 article contradicts what I wrote above or the scientific understanding of evolution.  It states that we do believe in a creator, which is not in conflict with scientific evolution.  In fact, science cannot address the idea of a creator (for yes or no) at all.  

Edited by Jane_Doe

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5 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Nothing in this 1909 article contradicts what I wrote above.  

Actually, it does. But thats fine, you can believe in evolution and still be a good standing Mormon. The 1909 statement represents the official doctrine of the church. That official statement clarifies that Adam and Eve were not the result of evolution.

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Just now, Rob Osborn said:

But thats fine, you can believe in evolution and still be a good standing Mormon. 

In fact, if you attend BYU-Idaho, if you major in biology you are required to take courses in evolution.  (I can't speak to the other BYU's, as I'm not as familiar with their course requirements).

Rob, if you would like to have the process explained to you accurately, how it does not conflict with a 1909 statement, and all the many church statements on the matter from the last century, I'd be happy to do that.  But I'm not going to just argue with you about this again.

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5 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

In fact, if you attend BYU-Idaho, if you major in biology you are required to take courses in evolution.  (I can't speak to the other BYU's, as I'm not as familiar with their course requirements).

Rob, if you would like to have the process explained to you accurately, how it does not conflict with a 1909 statement, and all the many church statements on the matter from the last century, I'd be happy to do that.  But I'm not going to just argue with you about this again.

It doesnt matter what BYU teaches, they do not represent the official church teachings. The first presidency however do have that right to declare and clarify doctrine. Thats what they did in 2002. They clarified the position. No first presidency statement since then has refuted that doctrine.

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12 hours ago, zlllch said:

fossil and archaeological evidence overwhelmingly point to the existence of pre-adamites and death prior to the fall, and I'm inclined to accept the validity of that evidence. Keep in mind that the church neither supports nor condemns me in doing so.

If you similarly choose to accept this evidence, I'm interested in how you reconcile the existence of pre-adamites with a literal, historical Adam and Eve. 

Ditto.  And while I can come up with a handful of plausible speculations that, if correct, would reconcile the two - I honestly don't really care enough to pick my favorite and advocate for it.  Honestly, I'm content just saying "dunno" on the whole subject. 

If I get to heaven and hear "Yep, the earth is 5647 years old, dinosaur fossils and other evidence of pre-adamite death were placed there by as a test of faith", then I'll say "huh - well, I'm really surprised but ok."

Honestly, I've encountered a lot of judging each other's worthiness or status as Christian based on their answer to these issues.  I think 99% of that is just unrighteous judgment and inappropriate ego.

 

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22 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

"In the early 1900s, questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution became the subject of much public discussion. In the midst of these controversies, the First Presidency issued the following in 1909, which expresses the Church’s doctrinal position on these matters. A reprinting of this important First Presidency statement will be helpful as members of the Church study the Old Testament this year."

"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 declared 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."

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity."

Interesting.  I have trouble reconciling this with my belief.  I'm not sure I'm going to tackle it at this time.   I would be interested in hearing @jane_doe's reconciliation, though

Edited by Grunt

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Just now, Grunt said:

Interesting.  I have trouble reconciling this with my belief.  I'm not sure I'm going to tackle it at this time.   I would be interested in hearing @Sunday21's reconciliation, though.

(Speaking as a scientist) 

Evolution is a process on how the genetics of life forms change over time, which can result in the change of existing species or divergence into new species.    The idea of a creator is that the assemblage of species on the Earth is not the result of random chance, but is purposefully guided.  It does not speak to the how the different species came to be.  The existence of a creator is not a testable hypothesis, and hence cannot be investigated with the scientific method.  Hence, there is no conflict between the two ideas: one speaks just about the how, the other doesn't speak about the how at all.  

Some common misunderstandings about this:

- "For it to be evolution, it can't have an ultimate creator guiding the process" -- that is not correct.  The theory of evolution has no comment on the existence of an creator (let alone any guidance), because science in general has no comment on that subject-- it is not a testable question, and hence cannot be commented on.

- "Well, if God uses natural laws to do something, then it's no longer a miracle" -- ... just no.  Especially coming from a LDS perspective.  This is like saying a baby's birth is less miraculous because we understand a tiny bit about sperm, eggs, and fetal development.  

 

(Now speaking from my LDS perspective)

Obviously we LDS do believe in the existence of a creator.   We do not believe this because of the scientific method (which cannot test such ideas), but based on revelation.   And on how the physical world (including our physical bodies) came to be are very symbolic, and don't give much anything on the scientific "how".  So there's no conflict with the idea of evolution (which is all about how), and there are no official church stances on the issue.  And as I said, they BYU's require courses in evolution.

Now, that's thus far I've talking about our physical bodies.  I will now talk about our spirits.  The scientific idea of evolution has nothing to do with spiritual things-- because spirits are not testable by the scientific method, and hence science cannot comment on the subject.  We LDS believe that each of us have a spirit, and that spirit is the literal offspring of God and not just a random fluke (as stated in the 1909 article, the Proclamation, the Bible, and so many others).  We are spiritual His sons and daughters in a very literal sense.  

In summary: LDS do God is the creator of our bodies.  We also believe the Father is the literal Father of our spirits.  Our spiritual and physical existence here is not just something of random chance, but of His design.  And none of this conflicts with the scientific idea of evolution.  

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1 hour ago, Rob Osborn said:

Actually, it does. But thats fine, you can believe in evolution and still be a good standing Mormon. The 1909 statement represents the official doctrine of the church. That official statement clarifies that Adam and Eve were not the result of evolution.

No, it doesn't.  Adam is the primal parent of our race.  That really says nothing about evolution.  You may be talking about a specific definition or aspect of evolution that is not required to recognize the validity of natural selection.  But you have to recognize that "evolution" covers a broad range of concepts.

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12 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

No, it doesn't.  Adam is the primal parent of our race.  That really says nothing about evolution.  You may be talking about a specific definition or aspect of evolution that is not required to recognize the validity of natural selection.  But you have to recognize that "evolution" covers a broad range of concepts.

Evolution includes the theory of how mans body evolved from a lower order of animals. The church teaches this is false.

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53 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

(Speaking as a scientist) 

Evolution is a process on how the genetics of life forms change over time, which can result in the change of existing species or divergence into new species.    The idea of a creator is that the assemblage of species on the Earth is not the result of random chance, but is purposefully guided.  It does not speak to the how the different species came to be.  The existence of a creator is not a testable hypothesis, and hence cannot be investigated with the scientific method.  Hence, there is no conflict between the two ideas: one speaks just about the how, the other doesn't speak about the how at all.  

Some common misunderstandings about this:

- "For it to be evolution, it can't have an ultimate creator guiding the process" -- that is not correct.  The theory of evolution has no comment on the existence of an creator (let alone any guidance), because science in general has no comment on that subject-- it is not a testable question, and hence cannot be commented on.

- "Well, if God uses natural laws to do something, then it's no longer a miracle" -- ... just no.  Especially coming from a LDS perspective.  This is like saying a baby's birth is less miraculous because we understand a tiny bit about sperm, eggs, and fetal development.  

 

(Now speaking from my LDS perspective)

Obviously we LDS do believe in the existence of a creator.   We do not believe this because of the scientific method (which cannot test such ideas), but based on revelation.   And on how the physical world (including our physical bodies) came to be are very symbolic, and don't give much anything on the scientific "how".  So there's no conflict with the idea of evolution (which is all about how), and there are no official church stances on the issue.  And as I said, they BYU's require courses in evolution.

Now, that's thus far I've talking about our physical bodies.  I will now talk about our spirits.  The scientific idea of evolution has nothing to do with spiritual things-- because spirits are not testable by the scientific method, and hence science cannot comment on the subject.  We LDS believe that each of us have a spirit, and that spirit is the literal offspring of God and not just a random fluke (as stated in the 1909 article, the Proclamation, the Bible, and so many others).  We are spiritual His sons and daughters in a very literal sense.  

In summary: LDS do God is the creator of our bodies.  We also believe the Father is the literal Father of our spirits.  Our spiritual and physical existence here is not just something of random chance, but of His design.  And none of this conflicts with the scientific idea of evolution.  

So, you believe in intelligent design. I agree there on that point.

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4 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

So, you believe in intelligent design. I agree there on that point.

The phrase "intelligent design" has some issues of it's own (mostly in the many inconsistent definitions), so I don't like it.  I'm just a evolution scientist and overjoyed LDS lady grateful for our almighty Creator & God.

Edited by Jane_Doe

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7 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

Evolution includes the theory of how mans body evolved from a lower order of animals. The church teaches this is false.

1) That is a very narrow definition of evolution.
2) What I read in Jane's posts was of a broader field of study.
3) Where did you get that from?  Let me be clear.  I agree with this aspect of what you're saying.  But it is because of a personal conviction.  The idea that the official position of the Church clearly and specifically states this... I haven't seen it yet.  And, yes, I'm familiar with the quote you just offered.

Have you read:

Quote

The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again ...

Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church….

Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, and Charles W. Nibley -- Letter from the First Presidencey 1931.

 

Edited by Guest

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14 hours ago, zlllch said:

I'm interested in how you reconcile the existence of pre-adamites with a literal, historical Adam and Eve. 

I don't understand the question. Can you explain what you think needs to be reconciled?

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5 hours ago, Carborendum said:

Howdy, @zlllch.

Yup.  I don't really like the term "Pre-adamites." It's highly imprecise and doesn't really express a clear meaning.  But yes, I believe evolution is compatible with creationism.  But the problem is that our knowledge of what happened thousands or millions of years ago is heavily into the speculative realm in both religious and archaeological circles.  I always think it's best to approach this issue with a healthy degree of "I don't know."

Yes, I definitely agree with you on the "I don't know" approach! What's a better term for "pre-adamites" then? I thought it pretty clearly meant humans who lived on this earth before Adam's time.

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21 minutes ago, Vort said:

I don't understand the question. Can you explain what you think needs to be reconciled?

As in, what's the relationship between them, and how do Adam and Eve fit in with the current scientific theories about the history of the human race? Are Adam and Eve evolutional descendants of the pre-adamites? Or are they a different species than humans entirely, despite their similarities to us? I don't know. 

Hopefully that explains my question more clearly.

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