From the day that Darwin published The Origin of Species followed by The Descent of Man (his The Voyage of the Beagle making less waves), it seemed to clash with Judeo-Christian beliefs. The very names were sure to cause consternation for those having faith in the Bible creation narratives. It was clear that God made animals and man fully formed from the dust. There would be no “intermediary” or physically “primitive” ancestors. A war has waged ever since with few conciliatory moves.
The story as traditionally told, and interpreted by the Bible reading, is that God created the Earth as a Garden of Eden with fruit bearing plants and a wide variety of animals. Man was then created by the dust and sprang fully formed and intelligent. Seeing that the man named Adam was alone, God created woman from his rib as a help meet and named her Eve. They lived in total bliss and ignorance.
Satan in the form of a snake tempted Eve with an unnamed fruit, later symbolized as an apple, that would give her forbidden knowledge. She then gave it to Adam who knew she would be kicked out of the Garden and both be alone. Recognizing they were naked, the man and woman covered themselves with leaves. When God discovered they had mentally awakened to understand good and evil, the two were indeed kicked out with the tree of Eternal Life protected by a flaming sword. Death entered the world for all earthly creations. The man and woman were given coats of skins as clothing and banned from God’s presence with only the Word of God to remind them of who they were and where they came from. For Christians, Jesus Christ was the Savior who died so that Adam and Eve’s mortal children could repent and be resurrected.
According to the theory of Evolution, the formation of animals and humans was far more complicated even if easier to explain. No recognizable Adam and Eve existed as the progenitors of modern mankind, although genetic research has uncovered a man and a women who lived thousands of years apart who could be given those designations. Instead, a species of ape (not monkey) produced a group of bipedal primates that eventually evolved into the Homo family that modern humans remain as the only survivors. We didn’t reach up for fruit in the branches of trees, but came down from them.
At first glance there is nothing in common between these two versions of human formation and history. The Bible has a deliberate and focused viewpoint. Evolution twists and turns over millions of years with many dead ends and what would seem random forces at work with no inevitable conclusions. Desperate as they seem, it isn’t impossible to allow them to exist together if rigid interpretations of both are loosened with some charity. Continue reading
My personal blog Straight and Narrow Blog has a quote from Joseph Smith on the masthead that reads, “it is necessary for us to have an understanding of God himself in the beginning. If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong, it is a hard matter to get right.” Nothing demonstrates this more than the Creation and Evolution debate. How a person understands God can determine if these two concepts will conflict or mesh. I believe that Mormonism is especially prepared to confront long standing difficulties that traditional Christianity has developed. The Mormon rejection of ex nihilo and its teachings about the “pre-existance” hold huge potential.
Continuing where I last left off is to start at the beginning. Most orthodox narratives start at a point in time, even if they claim the eternal timelessness of God. The physical existence came from nowhere and there was nothing more than God that came before. This is the reason Creationism has such a huge religious hold on many. Mormonism, by contrast, looks at everything both physical and spiritual as having no start and no end. Its a liberating concept.
I want to first warn that none of what I am about to explain is official doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or any other member. These are my own ideas and speculations only, no matter if shared by others. Long and ponderous thinking and praying has produced a personal belief that can always be amended with more revealed truth and knowledge. With that said, lets move forward by going back. Continue reading
When I was a child, like many my age I had a fascination with dinosaurs. The animals existing so many years in the past was hard for my young mind to comprehend. All I knew was that great monsters once roamed the land. What we knew of them came by digging the bones out of deep rock and dirt. Names for beasts were long and complicated, but flowed smoothly from child lips proudly pronouncing each syllable.
The idea these real myths came from a long natural process never crossed my mind until later in life. These creatures at first came fully formed in my imagination. My wonder came from the wide variety of large herbivorous animals forging for plants or carnivores hunting. Again, I loved learning about and pronouncing Saurischia Theropods and Sauropods to the Ornithiscia plated and horned. To date my favorites are not actually dinosaurs, but the more ancient mysterious Theropsida that are said to have given rise to mammals.
Evolution entered my thoughts and vocabulary only when extending interest to what came after the dinosaur extinction. If they lived, why are they no longer here and how do we have life now? This brought me to the study of what scientists call human ancestors. Books told the story of bones that looked like humans and yet were not, at least not completely. There was some discussion of the “missing link” that incidentally hasn’t been missing since the 1950s and 60s discoveries. Knowing the Adam and Eve story since before my interest in dinosaurs, it was all so confusing. I began asking religious questions relating to all these past lifeforms. The answers I got back from others were less than helpful, but I had faith in God from Scriptures and ancient life in fossil remains. Continue reading
Despite what some consider progress for women today, there can be an argument that the opposite has actually happened. Fond memories of good cooking, a clean house, and a person to rely on in difficult times have been replaced or forgotten. In many instances the whole idea of a women staying home to raise a family is abhorrent and troglodyte. At the same time a single parent mother who is forced to work is considered more of a saint than those who have a husband to look after financial needs. The concept of choice doesn’t really have meaning other than as a weapon of choice for social experimenters.
What has replaced long standing, although not always historically accurate, roles for women is the modern Amazonian lust for worldly power and prestige. Society has slowly made women into men while at times trying to displace them. Not only are they encouraged to have a career, but to be as free with their bodies as the natural person desires. There was a push back at the start of the feminist movement against the latter, but it was quickly abandoned by Sex and the City attitudes. Women can have it all; reject the consequences for themselves and society.
All of this isn’t to say that men and women are not to be seen as equals in life. Eve was, after all, symbolically taken out Adam’s rib to stand by his side, and not the foot or the head. He later in Genesis 2:23 proclaimed that Eve, “is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” No member of the Church or society is without some importance as 1 Corinthians 12 teaches, unless like Mark 9:43–47 there is a serious offense that must be dealt with. What must be acknowledged is that a women is not a man or the converse. Continue reading
Having established that families are the most important organization in the Eternities, the next step is to discuss how the Lord has delegated responsibilities. Any research or psychology demonstrating men or women are better for or equal to tasks is besides the point. What the Scriptures and prophets have to say will be the baseline. There surprisingly is a lot of very specific information and guidance. Despite modern sensibilities, men are commanded to be the leaders and protectors.
What we know about gender roles starts with Adam and Eve. The first creation was a male. Eve comes out, in a non-charitable reading, almost as an afterthought to help him as a sort of servant. Other readings are that she was created to harmonize and complete what he lacks. Regardless of what viewpoint, Adam is given the duties directly of tending the garden and naming the animals. Eve comes later when eating the fruit and bringing mortality.
Mormon beliefs about Eve split from traditional theology with the fortunate fall, but that will come later. We learn after the apple incident that men are cursed where they once had been blessed. The easy pickings of paradise have been replaced by hard work in bad conditions. It is here that the first and a primary role of men is given by the Lord. We learn in Genesis 3:17–19 the curse:
“17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Satan has a worse fate because he will be eating the dirt that plants grow from, symbolizing a completely worthless existence. The woman Eve has her own curse, but for the moment it is important to recognize this specific message. Bringing food to the table will be a constant struggle. The work requirement is not left to Adam only, but repeated for any male who will some day form a family. Continue reading