Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Do animals have spirits?

[What follows are excerpts from two articles by President Joseph Fielding Smith.  The first is from "Your Question: Do Animals Have Spirits?"  Improvement Era, Jan. 1958, 16-17.  An edited version of this article is found in Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:48-51.  The second is a passage titled "Pre-existence of All Creatures,"  Doctrines of Salvation, 1:62-64.  The original footnotes are included here parenthetically with the text.  All emphasis is in the original.]


Do animals have spirits?  Will they obtain the resurrection?  Where will they go?  President Smith discusses simply and succinctly the immortality of the animal world.

QUESTION:  "Do animals have spirits?  If so, will they obtain the resurrection and if so, where will they go?"

ANSWER:  The simple answer is that animals do have spirits and that through the redemption made by our Savior they will come forth in the resurrection to enjoy the blessing of immortal life.  The Bible as it has come to us through numerous translations and copies does not contain the information concerning the immortality of the animal world in the clearness which, without any doubt, it was invested with the pure inspiration of the revelations of the Lord.  However, there are some passages which still remain bearing witness to the eternal nature of the animal world.  Among these are the following:

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them....

"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

"And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew:  for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground."  (Genesis 2:1, 4-5.)

Then, before death came upon the world, the Lord planted a garden for Adam and Eve and placed all manner of cattle and living creatures on the earth, as well as vegetation.  When Adam transgressed the commandment, all things upon the earth became subject to death, as well as Adam and Eve, and the earth itself partook of this fall.

In the restoration of the original scriptures to the Prophet Joseph Smith we are given a clearer picture of conditions both before and after the fall.  This is the account as it was written by Moses:

"And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth;

"And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew.  For I, the Lord God created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.  For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth.  And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;

"But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground."  (Moses 3:4-6.)

Then to make the matter perfectly clear, the Lord added this:

"And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it.  And it became also a living soul.  For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man; and man saw that it was good for food...."  [(Moses 3:9.)]

When the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith many things concerning the millennium and the events which should precede and follow it, he gave the following:

"And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season;

"And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.

"For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea;

"And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand."  (D & C 29:22-25.)

What is meant by "the four beasts"?

While meeting with a group of the members of the Church one day in March 1882, the Prophet Joseph Smith was asked this question:  "What are we to understand by the four beasts, spoken of in the same verse?"  (i.e. Revelation 4:6.)  His answer is as follows:

"They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator John, in describing heaven, the paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air; that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created."  (Ibid., 77:2.)

Again when commenting on the Revelation of John, the Prophet said:

"John saw curious looking beasts in heaven, he saw every creature that was in heaven ... actually there, giving glory to God.  How do you prove it?  (See Revelation 5:13.)   ' And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.'

"beings of a thousand forms"

"I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,—strange beasts of which we have no conception:  all might be seen in heaven.  The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven.  John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them.

"Says one,  ' I cannot believe in the salvation of beasts.'  Any man who will tell you that this could not be, would tell you that the revelations are not true.  John heard the words of the beasts giving glory to God, and understood them.  God who made the beasts could understand every language spoken by them.  The four beasts were four of the most noble animals that had filled the measure of their creation, and had been saved from other worlds, because they were perfect:  they were like angels in their sphere.  We are not told where they came from, and I do not know; but they were seen and heard by John praising and glorifying God."  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 291-292.)

As to where the beasts, birds, and fish, and all other creatures will go after the resurrection we can only express an opinion.  John saw many of them in heaven in the presence of God.  It is very probable that they, like mankind, will be distributed in the various kingdoms, celestial, terrestrial, and telestial We may well believe that in each of these kingdoms such creatures will be assigned.


ALL LIFE CREATED IN THE SPIRIT.  Every creature had a spiritual existence.  The spirits of men, beasts, and all animal life, existed before the foundations of the earth were laid, and are living entities.  (Moses 3:5-9.)  As death, through the fall, has passed upon all, so the resurrection, through the mission of Jesus Christ, comes to all. (Church News, Feb. 15, 1941, pp. 1, 7: D. & C. 29:22-25.)

ANIMALS CREATED FOR MAN.  I want to give you a little explanation of man's relationship to the animals upon the earth, as the Lord has given it to us by revelation—not as it is taught by man in the world—but the true relationship which exists between man and beast.  Man is the greatest of all the creations of God.  He is his offspring.  We are all his children.  It was made known through the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who saw it in vision, that the inhabitants of this earth and other worlds are begotten sons and daughters unto God.  (D. & C. 76:24.)  That ought to put an end—so far as Latter-day Saints are concerned—to all this nonsense prevailing in the world regarding the origin of man.

Man, I say, as the offspring of God, is the greatest of all his creations.  He is greater than the moon, the sun, and the stars, which are the work of the fingers of God, and are made for the benefit of man.  It is man's place to rule, and stand at the head of all other dominions, powers, creations, and beings, which the Lord our God has created. (Ps. 8:1-9.)

ANIMALS HAVE SOULS.  The idea prevails in general, I believe, in the religious world where the gospel truth is misunderstood, that man is the only being on the earth that has what is called a soul or a spirit.  We know this is not the case, for the Lord has said that not only has man a spirit, and is thereby a living soul, but likewise the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea have spirits, and hence are living souls.  But this does not make them kinsmen to the sons and daughters of God.  They are our Father's creations, not his offspring, and that is the great difference between man and beast.

It would be a very strange world where animals were not found.  If, after the resurrection of the dead, we discovered that man was the only living creature with immortality, we would certainly consider it a very strange world.  Yet the idea does prevail that man has a spirit and the animals have not.  Some people think this is the great thing that distinguishes man from all other beings.

FORM OF ANIMAL SPIRITS.  The fish, the fowl, the beasts of the field, lived before they were placed naturally in this earth, and so did the plants that are upon the face of the earth.  The spirits that possess the bodies of the animals are in the similitude of their bodies. In other words, the bodies of animals conform to the spirits which possess them, and which existed before they were placed on the earth; "that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created."  (Gen. & Hist. Mag., vol. 17, pp. 152-154; D. & C. 77:2.)

[Above are excerpts from two articles by President Joseph Fielding Smith.  The first is from "Your Question:  Do Animals Have Spirits?"  Improvement Era, Jan. 1958, 16-17.  An edited version of this article is found in Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:48-51.  The second is a passage titled "Pre-existence of All Creatures,"  Doctrines of Salvation, 1:62-64.  The original footnotes are included here parenthetically with the text.  All emphasis is in the original.]

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Death, defining what wasn't before the fall

Instead of reading "no death before the fall," some individuals have been reading "no [fill-in-the-blank-with-your-own-concept] before the fall."  Obviously, if everyone is allowed to arbitrarily choose a different definition of "death," no death before the fall will be difficult to defend.  On the other hand, if we discover that those apostles and prophets who teach "no death before the fall" have also given us a definition of death, the statement will probably be (a) easier to understand, and (b) more difficult to disprove.

This article will set forth a definition of death as given by some of the same sources that teach "no death before the fall."  It will be shown that physical death is a separation of the body and the spirit—the physical or mortal body being separated from the immortal spirit.  Because these definitions involve the immortal spirit, biological analyses of death will likely not fit very well in this context.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism

We will start with the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

"At death, the spirit and body separate and  ' the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life '  (Alma 40:11; cf. Eccl. 12:7)."  (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, Death and Dying.)

Guide to the Scriptures

Three years ago, the Church announced a new CD titled The Scriptures: CD-ROM Standard Edition 1.0 which allows computer users to search, print, or copy scriptural texts, study guides, maps, and photos.  ("News of the Church: Scriptures Released on CD-ROM,"  Ensign. Mar. 2002, 76.)

Study aids available on the CD-ROM included a new Guide to the Scriptures (a topical compilation of cross-references and definitions).  Although the Guide is not found in printed editions of the LDS Bible, it is available in the on-line version of the LDS Scriptures along with other Study Helps.

Here is what the Guide to the Scriptures has to say about "Death, Physical":

"The separation of the body and the spirit.  The Fall brought mortality and death to the earth (2 Ne. 2: 22; Moses 6: 48).  The atonement of Jesus Christ conquered death so that everyone will be resurrected (1 Cor. 15: 21-23).  Resurrection is a free gift to all people regardless of whether they have done good or evil in this life (Alma 11: 42-44).  Each person suffers only one physical death since once we are resurrected, our bodies can die no more (Alma 11: 45).

"All flesh shall perish, and man shall turn again unto dust, Job 34: 15.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints, Ps. 116: 15.  The dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God, Eccl. 12: 7.  By man came death, 1 Cor. 15: 21.  The Savior holds the keys of hell and of death, Rev. 1: 18.  There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, Rev. 21: 4.  Death hath passed upon all men, 2 Ne. 9: 6, 11 (Alma 12: 24).  They never did look upon death with terror, Alma 27: 28.  Alma explained the state of the soul between death and the resurrection, Alma 40: 11.  Those who die in me shall not taste of death, D&C 42: 46.  Those who are not appointed unto death shall be healed, D&C 42: 48.  I will prove you in all things even unto death, D&C 98: 14.  Unto dust shalt thou return, Moses 4: 25.  Adam fell, and by his fall came death, Moses 6: 48."

True to the Faith

True to the Faith is the Church's new doctrinal guidebook aimed at youth, young single adults, and new members.  It is a collection of brief, simple statements on gospel doctrines and principles.  The authoritative nature of this doctrinal guidebook was previously discussed in an article titled "No Death Before the Fall taught in True to the Faith"  (click here).

This is what True to the Faith has to say about "Death, Physical":

"Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the mortal body.  The Fall of Adam brought physical death into the world (see Moses 6:48).

"Death is an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation (see 2 Nephi 9:6).  In order to become like our Eternal Father, we must experience death and later receive perfect, resurrected bodies.

"When the physical body dies, the spirit continues to live.  In the spirit world, the spirits of the righteous  ' are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow '  (Alma 40:12).  A place called spirit prison is reserved for  ' those who [have] died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets '  (D&C 138:32).  The spirits in prison are  ' taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that [are] necessary for them to know '  (D&C 138:33–34).  If they accept the principles of the gospel, repent of their sins, and accept ordinances performed in their behalf in temples, they will be welcomed into paradise.

"Because of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, physical death is only temporary: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).  Everyone will be resurrected, meaning that every person’s spirit will be reunited with his or her body— ' restored to their proper and perfect frame '  and no longer subject to death (Alma 40:23; see also Alma 11:44–45).

"You have probably experienced the pain that comes at the death of a family member or friend.  It is natural to feel sorrow at such times.  In fact, mourning is one of the deepest expressions of love.  The Lord said,  ' Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die '  (D&C 42:45).  The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.

"Even as you mourn at the death of loved ones, you can receive comfort in the promise of resurrection and in the assurance that families can be together forever.  You can  ' see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life '  (Alma 28:14; see also Alma 28:9–13).

"In addition to receiving comfort when loved ones die, you can be at peace with the knowledge that you will eventually die.  As you live the gospel, you can remember the Lord’s promise:  ' Those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them '  (D&C 42:46)."

The LDS Bible Dictionary

The LDS Bible Dictionary is located in the appendix of the 1979 LDS edition of the Bible.  The dictionary is based on the Cambridge University Press Bible Dictionary.  The dictionary's preface informs us that many of the items in the dictionary have been drawn from the best available scholarship of the world and are subject to reevaluation based on new research or on new revelation.  In should be noted as well that the dictionary contains many additions and changes to the Cambridge text which reflect the additional light and knowledge the Lord has revealed in our day.  The dictionary can provide helpful insights to aid in scripture study.  (See Tools for Searching the Scriptures," Aaronic Priesthood 1, chapter 43, p. 154.)

This is what the LDS Bible Dictionary tells us about Death:

"Two kinds of death are spoken of in the scriptures.  One is the death of the body, which is caused by the separation of the body from the spirit; i.e.,  ' The body without the spirit is dead '  (James 2: 26).  The other is spiritual death, which is to die as pertaining to, or to be separated from,righteousness — to be alienated from the things of God (Alma 12: 16, 32; Alma 40: 26).  Both of these deaths were introduced into the world by the fall of Adam.  But death is also the consequence of our own sins.  We make our own spiritual death by our works, our thoughts, and our actions.  As Paul said,  ' The wages of sin is death '  (Rom. 6: 23), and some are  ' dead '  while they  ' liveth '  (1 Tim. 5: 6).

"In explaining these things, Jacob called the physical death, the grave, and spiritual death he called hell.  The atonement of Jesus Christ will bring all persons back into the presence of God to be judged, the body coming forth from the grave and uniting with the spirit released from paradise or from hell (as the case may be).  This will restore all mankind to the presence of God.  This is the same as Paul spoke:  ' For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive '  (1 Cor. 15: 21-23).  Then those who have willfully rebelled against the light and truth of the gospel will suffer again a spiritual death, which is called the second death (Rev. 20: 14; Alma 12: 16-18; Hel. 14: 16-19; D&C 76: 36-37).  Each person suffers only one physical death, since when once resurrected, the body can die no more (Alma 11: 42-45).

"Latter-day revelation teaches that there was no death on this earth for any forms of life before the fall of Adam.  Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the fall (2 Ne. 2: 22; Moses 6: 48).

The Living Prophet

President Gordon B. Hinckley has taught, "Each of us is a dual being of spiritual entity and physical entity.  All know of the reality of death when the body dies, and each of us also knows that the spirit lives on as an individual entity and that at some time, under the divine plan made possible by the sacrifice of the Son of God, there will be a reunion of spirit and body."  (Ensign, Mar. 1998, p. 2.)

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Where was earth created and out of what?

In a post at Mormons and Evolution titled "Mormons, Evolution & a Young Earth ," Jeffrey D. Giliam made the following comments, some of them directed my way.  In a comment on this blogspot, Jeffrey challenged me to "answer some of the things" he put forth in that article.  Below are four statements Jeffrey made to which I will respond in this article.

    1.  The only way that any person can really maintain that this solar system, this earth and all its fossils are not as old as they appear to be, would be by suggesting that God changed them to look old.  Coincidence, or accident is simply not an option.  God must have created the 'appearance of age' as the creationists call it.  God created things to specifically look not only older, but to look like they were 4.5 billion years old.  How can this be viewed as anything but deception?  Thus, not only is this view of the universe bad science, but it makes for bad theology as well....

    2.  Did [God] organize all those photons apparently coming from distant galaxies for any particular reason?...

    3.  The world is as it is because of Adam, not God.' Are we going to believe that Adam was somehow able to give the appearance of a specific age to the universe in his fall?...

    4.  The evidence for an ancient earth, complete with death before the fall is simply over whelming.  To suggest that God anybody else has altered reality to give it the appearance of age is not only bad science but terrible theology as well.

My answer to Jeffrey's challenge involves mentioning two ideas about the creation, both of which have found their way into the Ensign magazine in recent years—and therefore, I think these two ideas at a minimum deserve some consideration.

Idea number one:  The Earth Was Created Near Kolob

The following statements are in no particular order.  In reading them, we are given the idea that the earth was created near Kolob (star or planet nearest the throne of God) and fell from there to its present location in the universe at the time of the fall.

Ensign, March 1997: "According to President Brigham Young,… before the Fall of Adam, the earth was near the very throne of God.  But when the Fall occurred, the earth literally fell or moved from the physical presence of God to its present position in our solar system.  When all the effects of the Fall of Adam are finally overcome, the earth will literally move back into the presence of God.  Here are President Young’s words: ' When the earth was framed and brought into existence and man was placed upon it, it was near the throne of our Father in heaven....  But when man fell, the earth fell into space, and took up its abode in this planetary system....  This is the glory the earth came from, and when it is glorified it will return again unto the presence of the Father, and it will dwell there, and these intelligent beings that I am looking at, if they live worthy of it, will dwell upon this earth.' " (Andrew Skinner, Ensign, March 1997, 22.)

Joseph Smith and John Taylor: "A member of the Church in the days of Joseph Smith reported that the Prophet taught that the time will come when the earth will be restored to its former place in the cosmos and again 'revolve in its original orbit next to Kolob.' …Others who were close to him and who were instructed by him also made statements in harmony with this report.  John Taylor wrote that the earth 'was organized near the planet Kolob.'" (Hyrum L. Andrus, God, Man, and the Universe, SLC: Deseret Book Co., 1993, 313.)

Joseph Smith: "This earth will be rolled back into the presence of God and crowned with Celestial Glory." (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, comps., The Words of Joseph Smith, 1980, 60; also in Franklin D. Richards, Compendium, 1898, p. 288; and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, 1976, 181.)

Brigham Young: "gave it as his opinion that the Earth did not dwell in the sphere in which it did when it was created, but that it was banished from its more glorious state or orbit of revolution for man's sake" ("Record of Acts of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles," 5 Jan. 1841, quoted in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, comps., The Words of Joseph Smith, 1980, 84.)

Brigham Young: "This earthly ball, this little opake substance thrown off into space, is only a speck in the great universe; and when it is celestialized it will go back into the presence of God, where it was first framed." (Journal of Discourses, 9:316-317.)

Lorenzo Snow: "The earth shall be rolled back in pristine purity, into its primeval orbit, and the inhabitants thereof dwell upon it in perfect peace and righteousness." (quoted in Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, SLC: Deseret Book Co., 1884, 333.)

Hymns, 1891, no. 322

"Thou, earth, wast once a glorious sphere
of noble magnitude,
And didst with majesty appear,
among the worlds of God.

"But thy dimensions have been torn
asunder, piece by piece,
And each dismembered fragment borne
abroad to distant space.

"When Enoch could no longer stay
amid corruption here,
Part of thyself was borne away
to form another sphere.

"That portion where his city stood
he gained by right approved;
And nearer to the throne of God
his planet upward moved.

"And when the Lord saw fit to hide
the "ten lost tribes" away,
Thou, earth, was severed to provide
the orb on which they stay.

"And thus, from time to time thy size
has been diminished, till
Thou seemest the law of sacrifice
created to fulfil....

"When Satan's hosts are overcome,
the martyred, princely race
Will claim thee, their celestial home
—their royal dwelling-place.

"A 'restitution' yet must come,
that will to thee restore,
By that grand law of worlds,
thy sum of matter heretofore.

"And thou, O earth, will leave the track
Thou hast been doomed to trace;
The Gods with shouts will bring thee back
To fill thy native place."

(Eliza R. Snow, Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, SLC, Utah, 1891, 322; first published in Millennial Star, 13:17.)

Idea number two:  Earth was made of pieces of other worlds

According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, "The word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship.  Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory.  Element had an existence from the time he had.  The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed.  They had no beginning, and can have no end." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 350-352; italics in original; see also Joseph Smith Jr., "The King Follett Sermon," Ensign, Apr. 1971, 17.)

Ships made of particle board

The Prophet used the words "chaos—chaotic matter" (Teachings, 351).  A current view about the universe is that chaos represents "the disordered state of unformed matter and infinite space supposed ... to have existed before the ordered universe." According to this view, the earth also began as a chaotic nebula cloud or "diffuse mass of interstellar dust or gas or both," containing particles so small as to be termed "unformed matter." (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000; see also here and here.)

But notice the Prophet also said, "the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship" (Teachings, 350; emphasis added).  Assuming the Prophet meant building the ship with chaotic matter and applying the above view of earth's origin, we must conclude that the first step in building a ship would be to gather large amounts of saw dust from which to form particle board components (the stern post, keel, and rudder, etc.) for the ship.

It is highly doubtful this is what the Prophet Joseph had in mind.

Ships were made with timber

At the time the Prophet made this statement, ships were made with timber.  Therefore, it is much more likely that the Prophet Joseph Smith had in mind using large trees to build a ship.

Now note that chaos also means "1. A condition or place of great disorder or confusion. 2. A disorderly mass; a jumble:  The desk was a chaos of papers and unopened letters." (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000; italics in the original.)

Ensign quotes the Prophet Joseph on remodeling of earth

The Prophet also used the words "organized and re-organized" (Teachings, 352; emphasis added).  His private secretary reported Joseph Smith as saying in 1841:

"This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live" (as quoted in Donald Q. Cannon, Larry E. Dahl, and John W. Welch, "The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: The Godhead, Mankind, and the Creation," Ensign, Jan. 1989, 32; emphasis added).

The Prophet Joseph quoted elsewhere as well

This same statement was published in 1882 with one difference in wording—the word 'broken' in place of 'broke'—by Elders Franklin D. Richards and James A Little in A Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel, "This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broken up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live" (p. 287).  In 1908, Elder B. H. Roberts quoted the Compendium version of the statement in The Seventy's Course in Theology: Second Year (p. 31).  In 1890, it was published in The Contributor, with this comment:

"It should ... be borne in mind that Joseph Smith's instructors were heavenly messengers—beings of more than worldly scholarship; they doubtlessly lived on distant planets, and had explored the realms of space; they had viewed the mighty works of a Creator in various stages of development, thus possessing full cognition of the genesis of this earth." (Joseph B. Keeler, "Foundation Stones of the Earth," The Contributor, Vol. XI, Feb. 1890.)

President Wilford Woodruff also reminded "Joseph Smith was an illiterate man; but afterwards his teachers and instructors were angels" ("We Are Led by Revelation," Remarks made November 1, 1891, Tambuli, Dec. 1978, 17).

Do fossils belong to this earth or to other worlds

If you'd like the background for the next two paragraphs, visit my web site at http://ndbf.net.

John W. Welch believes "[Elder B.H.] Roberts pushed too far when he postulated that a great pre-Adamic cataclysm had occurred on this earth." Welch then points out that "Nineteenth-century LDS writers (including Roberts himself) had commonly suggested before 1929 that this earth was created from pieces of other worlds recycled by God in organizing this planet.  Under that theory, evidence in the rock record of prehistoric life did not imply that death had occurred on this sphere before the fall of Adam and Eve." (TWL, xiii-xiv; italics in the original.)

Thus, the Church's rejection of Elder Roberts' book was, in part, rooted in acceptance of the Prophet Joseph's teaching that "this earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live" (Ensign, Jan. 1989, 32).  Using "Geology, Biology, Archaeology, and Anthropology" to suggest otherwise was simply unacceptable.


What follows is an imaginary conversation between Gary and Jeffrey (using Jeffrey's actual words, of course).

    Jeffrey: If you can answer some of the things I put forth there to anybody's satisfaction I think this would be jumping over a huge hurdle.

    Gary: I will try.

    Jeffrey: The only way that any person can really maintain that this solar system, this earth and all its fossils are not as old as they appear to be, would be by suggesting that God changed them to look old.

    Gary: There are two ideas which, if accepted, answer your arguments.

    1.  Placing the earth near Kolob at the time of creation explains why it was a paradisiacal creation with immortal life on it and why it could have been made by remodeling older planets without melting everything in the process.  And, by the way, the idea that everything had to be melted in the process was not something originated by the Prophet Joseph (or any other President of the Church for that matter).

    2.  Remodeling older planets into this one explains why this earth and all its fossils actually could be as old as they appear to be, without suggesting that God changed them to look old.

    Jeffrey: Did [God] organize all those photons apparently coming from distant galaxies for any particular reason?

    Gary: If the earth fell from a more glorious location in the universe to its present position in our solar system, the photons would have been on their way from distant galaxies for millions or billions of years before the earth got here.

    Jeffrey: Are we going to believe that Adam was somehow able to give the appearance of a specific age to the universe in his fall?

    Gary: According to the two ideas presented above, Adam's fall has nothing to do with the age of the universe, or the age of the earth.  Nor did Adam's fall make the universe or the earth appear to be any age at all.

    Jeffrey: The evidence for an ancient earth, complete with death before the fall is simply overwhelming.

    Gary: Denying that older planets could have been remodeled into this one, seems to leave only one interpretion for the evidence, that's true.  On the other hand, within the context of the two ideas presented in this article, we could be living on a young earth that truly experienced no death before the fall.  We all believe what we want to believe, don't we!

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

No death versus eating fruit, before the fall

A friend with whom I don't always agree but who is willing to comment on my articles anyway, has asked:  "Did Adam and Eve's hair and finger nails grow?  If so, this is due to the death of cells in the body."

Others have asked similarly, If there was no death before the fall, how was it that Adam, Eve and the animals were eating herbs and seeds?  Did Adam and Eve even have hair, nails, and skin?  If there was no reproduction before the fall, where did fruits and seeds come from?  The following verses from Genesis have been quoted in this context:

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so."  (Gen 1:29-30.)

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 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."  (Gen. 2:16-17.)

In their book, Evolution and Mormonism, Stephens and Meldrum have elaborated on these questions:

"There is no way the fruit could have been eaten and still remained in the same state in which it was created.... If there was no procreation or death before the Fall, what was the source and fate of the fruit (the reproductive organs of trees) of which Adam and Eve freely ate?"  (Trent D. Stephens and D. Jeffrey Meldrum, Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001, 135, 144.)

"Many people, including some Mormons, believe that there was no reproduction or death of anything, including plants and animals, until after the Fall.  How can plants form seeds or fruit without reproduction?  How could Adam and Eve eat these seeds and fruit in the garden if there was no death of the cells making up the seeds or fruit?"  (Ibid., 171.)

"Were all beasts and fowls plant-eaters before the Fall?  Plants are also living; what about their death before the Fall?  If all animals ate plants, the anatomy and physiology of some animals must have changed drastically afterwards.  For example, a lion's intestinal tract is only about ten feet long and is well-suited for digesting and absorbing the high-protein nutrients of meat.  By contrast, a cow's intestinal tract is nearly sixty feet long and is well-suited for the long, slow process of fermenting and digesting the relatively low levels of nutrients in grasses and hay.  A lion fed only grass and hay will soon die of starvation."  (Ibid., 173.)

What about the lion after the Second Coming?

"The lion shall eat straw like the ox"  (Isa. 11:7).

"The lion shall eat straw like the bullock"  (Isa. 65:25).

"The lion shall eat straw like the ox"  (2 Ne. 21:7).

"The lion shall eat straw like the ox"  (2 Ne. 30:13).

Is this any more difficult to accept than that the lion ate straw like the ox before the fall?

No death during the millennium

It seems to me the issues raised here would apply equally to the future state of the earth—for example, after the Second Coming of Christ when the earth and everything on it will be changed.  Immortal beings will mingle with mortal men.  Righteous men will not "sleep in the dust" but will be changed from mortality to immortality in the "twinkling of an eye" (D&C 43:32; D&C 63:49–51; D&C 101:30–31).  Will these immortal men and women who live on earth during the millennium have hair, nails, or even skin?

Conclusions drawn from the existence of fruits and seeds prior to the fall and conclusions drawn from the eating of herbs and seeds prior to the fall—these conclusions are meaningless unless you can say positively beforehand that all of the natural processes of life and death were exactly the same then as now.  But that makes your logic circular because that is the very thing you are trying to prove.

No death in the celestial kingdom

And what about heaven?  The prophet Amulek explained that resurrected beings "can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption."  (Alma 11:45; italics added.)

"In the celestial glory, we are told, 'God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.' (Rev. 21:4.)"  (James E. Faust, "Spiritual Healing," Ensign, May 1992, 8.)

In other words, there is no death in the celestial kingdom.

Does God eat?

So what about God?  Does God eat?  If so, all of the above questions apply just as well to God and the celestial kingdom as they do to the pre-Fall earth.  The following is a short excerpt taken from a book that was very popular among missionaries when I served my mission back in the mid-1960s:

The Worship of False Gods

The great sin of the ages has been the worship of false gods, hence the first of the ten commandments written by God himself upon the tablets of stone amid the thunder and lightning of Sinai:  "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me."  (Exodus 20:3.)

When Moses led the children of Israel to the promised land, he told them that they should be, in coming generations, scattered among the heathen nations:  "And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell."  (Deuteronomy 4:28. Italics added.) Then Moses promised them that "in the latter days" when they were in tribulation, if they would seek after the Lord their God with all their hearts and with all their souls, they would find him.  (See Deuteronomy 4:29-30.)

Could the gods made by the hands of man, taught and worshiped by the Christian churches of the world at the time Joseph Smith received his glorious vision, see or hear or eat or smell?  (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work And A Wonder, 12-13; italics in original; bold emphasis added.)

Robert L. Millet is dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University.  He gives us this thought:

"Unlike so many in the religious world, the Latter-day Saints anticipate celestial life on a material world.  Elder Orson Pratt eloquently and powerfully made this point as follows:  'A Saint who is one in deed and truth, does not look for an immaterial heaven, but he expects a heaven with lands, houses, cities, vegetation, rivers, and animals; with thrones, temples, palaces, kings, princes, priests, and angels; with food, raiment, musical instruments, etc., all of which are material.  Indeed, the Saints' heaven is a redeemed, glorified, celestial material creation, inhabited by glorified material beings, male and female, organized into families, embracing all the relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children, where sorrow, crying, pain, and death will be known no more.  Or to speak still more definitely, this earth, when glorified, is the Saints' eternal heaven.  On it they expect to live, with body, parts, and holy passions; on it they expect to move and have their being; to eat, drink, converse, worship, sing, play on musical instruments, engage in joyful, innocent, social amusements, visit neighboring towns and neighboring worlds; indeed, matter and its qualities and properties are the only beings or things with which they expect to associate....

" 'Materiality is indelibly stamped upon the very heaven of heavens, upon all the eternal creations; it is the very essence of all existence.' (Masterful Discourses and Writings of Orson Pratt (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962), 62-63; italics added.)"  (Robert L. Millett, "Life in the Millennium," in Watch and Be Ready: Preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994, 188; italics in original, bold emphasis added; see also Otten & Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine & Covenants, 2:342).

Elder B.H. Roberts said, "When I say that the prophet taught that the resurrection is a reality, that the relationship of husband and wife is intended to be eternal, together with all its endearing affections, I mean all that in its most literal sense.  I mean that in the life to come man will build and inhabit, eat, drink, associate and be happy with his friends; and that the power of endless increase will contribute to the power and dominion of those who attain by their righteousness unto these privileges."  (B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 1:457)


There must be some process by which celestial plants can provide food for celestial animals and the celestial children of God without the plants themselves dying in the sense we think of dying.  This may not be easily understood, nevertheless, "it is decreed that this earth shall become a celestialized, glorified sphere; such is the revealed word.  Science has nothing to say on the matter; it can neither refute nor prove.  But the Lord, even God, hath spoken it—and so shall it be! Amen."  (James E. Talmage, The Earth and Man, 14).

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The Voice Is Still Small

[What follows is excerpted from a general conference talk given by Elder Graham W. Doxey of the Seventy (See "The Voice Is Still Small," Ensign, Nov. 1991, p. 25.)  All italics are in the original.]

President Spencer W. Kimball, a man with unique experience in all levels of Church leadership, described the subject that has been on my mind since this speaking assignment came.... President Kimball said:

"The burning bushes, the smoking mountains,... the Cumorahs, and the Kirtlands were realities; but they were the exceptions.  The great volume of revelation came to Moses and to Joseph and comes to today's prophet in the less spectacular way—that of deep impressions, without spectacle or glamour or dramatic events.

"Always expecting the spectacular, many will miss entirely the constant flow of revealed communication."  (In Conference Report, Munich Germany Area Conference, 1973, p. 77.)

Dramatic and miraculous answers to prayer may come, but they are the exceptions.  Even at the highest levels of responsibility in this kingdom of God, which is being built up upon the earth, the voice is still small.

In the Bible we read of the account of an earlier prophet who was rejected and discouraged.  The word of the Lord came to Elijah when the children of Israel had forsaken their covenant, and thrown down altars and slain prophets.  He was told to "go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.  And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

"And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."  (1 Kgs. 19:11–12.)

My testimony is that the Lord is speaking to you! But with the deafening decibels of today's environment, all too often we fail to hear him.  I remember as a youth having the experience of being in company with an older man who had lost much of his hearing ability.  He had no hearing aid and was continually asking that we speak louder so that he could be part of the conversation.  He would say, "Talk louder; speak up; I can't hear you."

That was before the days of television and CDs and boomers and blasters.  I was interested in someone's observation: "With TV, and radio, and tapes, what young person has time to listen to reason?"  Listening is a challenge for us all today.

Time to listen.  The ability to listen.  The desire to listen.  On religious matters, too many of us are saying, "What did you say?  Speak up; I can't hear you."  And when he doesn't shout back, or cause the bush to burn, or write us a message in stone with his finger, we are inclined to think he doesn't listen, doesn't care about us.  Some even conclude there is no God.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, "Every common bush [is] afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes."  (Aurora Leigh, book 7, lines 822–23.)

The questions are not "Does God live?  Does God love me?  Does God speak to me?"  The critical question is, "Are you listening to him?"  Have you removed your shoes?  It is the same for you as it was for Elijah, as it is with the modern-day prophets: "The still, small voice is still small."...

As it was with Elijah, so it is today.  God is not in the earthquake, nor in the winds and fires of war, but he speaks to us in a voice that is small.  With President Kimball, I, too, testify that it is this constant flow of revealed communication which continues to direct this church through our prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, and through his counselors, and through the Twelve Apostles.  It comes to the Seventy and to the Presiding Bishopric.  It comes to the stake presidents, and to the bishops and to the quorum and Church officers throughout the world.  It speaks to our missionaries; it comes to heads of families.  I further witness that this still, small voice is speaking personally to you.  Please be still and listen! The Psalmist said, "Be still, and know that I am God."  (Ps. 46:10.)

I know that he lives.  He loves you.  He wants you to follow him, and to follow him not because of any spectacular showmanship on his part, but simply because you love him—simply! I bear my solemn witness that he lives and is near you, and that we are being led by his living prophet in these last days.

[The above is excerpted from a general conference talk given by Elder Graham W. Doxey of the Seventy (See "The Voice Is Still Small," Ensign, Nov. 1991, p. 25.)  All italics are in the original.]

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

No death before the fall taught by Boyd K. Packer

In a recent comment made here, Jeffrey D. Giliam claims "Elder [Boyd K.] Packer certainly allows for it [death before the fall]." Also, in a recent article at Mormons and Evolution, Jeffrey makes a similar point when he asks, "Is Elder Packer acknowledging death before the fall!?"

It turns out that Elder Packer does not "allow for" death before the fall; nor has he acknowledged it. On the contrary, he teaches that death would not "exist" without the fall and that only since the fall have "all living things" experienced "mortal or temporal death."

The year 1988 was Elder Packer's year to talk about death before the fall. He mentioned it in his paper on "The Law and the Light" which was was presented at the end of October in 1988 and he referred to it in both General Conferences that year.


In the April 1988 General Conference, he said "the condition of mortality" (death) did not "exist" until after the fall:

"The creation of their bodies in the image of God, as a separate creation, was crucial to the plan. Their subsequent fall was essential if the condition of mortality was to exist and the plan proceed." (Boyd K. Packer, "Atonement, Agency, Accountability," Ensign, May 1988, 70)

If mortality (death) didn't exist without the fall, then it clearly didn't exist before the fall.


In the October 1988 General Conference, he said the Fall marks the point in time after which "all living things" have experienced "mortal death":

"Since death is ever present with us, a knowledge of how essential it is to the plan of salvation is of immense, practical value. Every one of us should know how and why it came to be in the beginning.

"Mortal death came into the world at the Fall....

"It was as though a clock were set and a time given. Thereafter, all living things moved inexorably toward mortal death." (Boyd K. Packer, "Funerals—A Time for Reverence," Ensign, Nov. 1988, 18)

"Thereafter" means "from a specified time onward; from then on." In other words, it didn't happen before then.


In his paper on "The Law and the Light," again identified the Fall as that point in time after which "all living things" have experienced "mortal or temporal death":

"The word fall describes well what transpired when Adam and Eve were driven from the garden. A transformation took place which made them 'a little lower than the angels.' (In the Hebrew text, the word “angel” is given as 'gods,' see Ps 8:5, Heb 2:7-9.) The bodies formed for mankind became temporal or physical bodies. The scriptures say “the life of all flesh is in the blood thereof” (Lev 17:11-13; Deut 12:23; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 199-200, 367 Kimball 5-6).

"After the transformation caused by the Fall, bodies of flesh and bone and blood (unlike our spirit bodies), would not endure forever. Somehow the ingredient blood carried with it a limit to life. It was as though a clock were set and a time given. Thereafter, all living things moved inexorably toward mortal or temporal death" (Boyd K. Packer, "The Law and the Light," The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, to Learn with Joy, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1990, 12).


It seems clear to me that Elder Packer does not "allow for" death before the fall; nor has he acknowledged it. On the contrary, he teaches that death would not "exist" without the fall and that only since the fall have "all living things" experienced "mortal or temporal death."

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Testimony of Early Brethren

[What follows is excerpted from "Testimony of Early Brethren," chapter nineteen in Joseph Fielding Smith's book Man: His Origin and Destiny.  All italics are in the original.]

The Tenth Article of Faith reads as follows:

"We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this [the American] continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory."

We are also taught that we are living in the "Dispensation of the Fulness of Times."  This is the dispensation into which all other dispensations flow.  It is spoken of in the scriptures as "the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."  (Acts 3:21.)  If the earth is to be renewed, to what is it to be renewed?  It must be to some condition which prevailed in the beginning when the Lord pronounced it "good."  Isaiah, in the 65th chapter of his book gives us the story of what this restoration will be.  Likewise in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 101, verses 23 to 30, we are given a similar account, and in the same book, Section 133, the Lord reveals in some detail other things pertaining to this restoration.  This work of restoration commenced many years ago, when the Lord prepared for the restoration of the Church in this dispensation, and received its impetus when the Lord commenced his "marvelous work and a wonder."  (D&C Sec. 4.)

We learn in Section 133, that the Ten Tribes are to come to the children of Ephraim to receive their blessings and be restored; the Lamb shall come and stand on Mt. Zion, and on the Mt. of Olives and "utter his voice out of Zion, and he shall speak from Jerusalem, and his voice shall be heard among all people."  His voice shall break down the mountains, the "great deep" shall be driven back into the North countries, and the islands shall become one land and Jerusalem and Zion shall be turned back to their own place, "and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided.  And the Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh."

Some of our brethren who lived in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith have written interesting accounts of this condition which was in the beginning and what it will be like in the restoration.  First we will present parts of the story as related by Elder Parley p. Pratt, in his Voice of Warning and as it is re-published by John Taylor, in his The Government of God.  President Taylor introduces the quotation from Elder Parley p. Pratt's writings with the following sentence:

Now, restoration signifies a bringing back, and must refer to something which existed before; for if it did not exist before, it could not be restored.  I cannot describe this better than Parley p. Pratt has done in his Voice of Warning, and shall therefore make the following extract:—...

Now, we can never understand precisely what is meant by restoration, unless we understand what is lost or taken away; for instance, when we offer to restore any thing to a man, it is as much as to say he once possessed it, but had lost it, and we propose to replace or put him in possession of that which he once had; therefore, when a prophet speaks of the restoration of all things, he means all things have undergone a change, and are to be again restored to their primitive order even as they first existed.

First, then, it becomes necessary for us to take a view of creation as it rolled in purity from the hand of its Creator; and if we can discover the true state in which it then existed, and understand the changes that have taken place since, then we shall be able to understand what is to be restored; and thus our minds being prepared, we shall be looking for the very things which will come, and shall be in no danger of lifting our puny arm, in ignorance, to oppose the things of God.

First, then, we will take a view of the earth, as to its surface, local situation, and productions.

When God had created the heavens and the earth, and separated the light from the darkness, his next command was to the waters, Gen. 1:9—And God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so!"  From this we learn a marvelous fact, which very few ever realized or believed in this benighted age; we learn that the waters, which are now divided into oceans, seas, and lakes, were then all gathered together, into one vast ocean; and, consequently, that the land, which is now torn asunder, and divided into continents and islands, almost innumerable, was then one vast continent or body, not separated as it is now.

Second, we hear the Lord God pronounce the earth, as well as every thing else, very good.  From this we learn that there were neither deserts, barren places, stagnant swamps, rough, broken, ragged hills, nor vast mountains covered with eternal snows; and no part of it was located in the frigid zones, so as to render its climate dreary and unproductive, subject to eternal frost, or everlasting chains of ice,—

Where no sweet flowers the dreary landscape cheer, Nor plenteous harvests crown the passing year;

but the whole earth was probably one vast plain, or interspersed with gently rising hills, and sloping vales, well calculated for cultivation; while its climate was delightfully varied with the moderate changes of heat and cold, of wet and dry, which only tended to crown the varied year, with the greater variety of productions, all for the good of man, animal, fowl, or creeping thing; while from the flowery plain, or spicy grove, sweet odors were wafted on every breeze; and all the vast creation of animated beings breathed naught but health, peace, and joy.

Next, we learn from Genesis 1:29-30, "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree, yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so."  From these verses we learn that the earth yielded neither noxious weeds nor poisonous plants, nor useless thorns and thistles; indeed, everything that grew was just calculated for the food of man, beast, fowl, and creeping thing; and their food was all vegetable; flesh and blood were never sacrificed to glut their souls, or gratify their appetites; the beasts of the earth were all in perfect harmony with each other; the lion ate straw like the ox—the wolf dwelt with the lamb—the leopard lay down with the kid—the cow and bear fed together, in the same pasture ... in perfect security, under the shade of the same trees; all was peace and harmony, and nothing to hurt nor disturb, in all the holy mountain.

And to crown the whole, we behold man created in the image of God, and exalted in dignity and power, having dominion over all the vast creation of animated beings, which swarmed through the earth, while at the same time, he inhabits a beautiful and well-watered garden, in the midst of which stood the tree of life, to which he had free access; while he stood in the presence of his Maker, conversed with him face to face, and gazed upon his glory, without a dimming veil between.  O reader, contemplate, for a moment, this beautiful creation, clothed with peace and plenty; the earth teeming with harmless animals, rejoicing over all the plain, the air swarming with delightful birds, whose never ceasing notes filled the air with varied melody; and all in subjection to their rightful sovereign who rejoiced over them; while, in a delightful garden—the capital of creation,—man was seated on the throne of his vast empire, swaying his scepter over all the earth, with undisputed right; while legions of angels encamped round about him, and joined their glad voices in grateful songs of praise, and shouts of joy; neither a sign nor a groan was heard, throughout the vast expanse; neither was there sorrow, tears, pain, weeping, sickness, nor death; neither contention, wars, nor bloodshed; but peace crowned the seasons as they rolled, and life, joy, and love reigned over all his works.  But, O! how changed the scene.

It now becomes my painful duty, to trace some of the important changes, which have taken place, and the causes which have conspired to reduce the earth and its inhabitants to their present state.

First, man fell from his standing before God, by giving heed to temptation; and this fall affected the whole creation, as well as man, and caused various changes to take place; he was banished from the presence of his Creator, and a veil was drawn between them, and he was driven from the garden of Eden, to till the earth, which was cursed for man's sake, and should bring forth thorns and thistles; and in the sweat of his face should earn his bread, and in sorrow eat of it, all the days of his life, and finally return to dust.  But as to Eve, her curse was a great multiplicity of sorrow and conception; and between her and the seed of the serpent, there was to be a constant enmity; it should bruise the serpent's head, and the serpent should bruise his heel.

Now, reader, contemplate the change.  This scene, which was so beautiful a little while before, had now become the abode of sorrow and toil, of death and mourning; the earth groaned with its production of accursed thorns and thistles; man and beast at enmity; the serpent slily creeping away, fearing lest his head should get the deadly bruise; and man starting amid the thorny path, in fear, lest the serpent's fangs should pierce his heel; while the lamb yields his blood upon the smoking altar.  Soon man begins to persecute, hate, and murder his fellow; until at length the earth is filled with violence; all flesh becomes corrupt, the powers of darkness prevail; and it repented Noah that God had made man, and it grieved him at his heart, because the Lord should come out in vengeance, and cleanse the earth by water.

How far the flood may have contributed, to produce the various changes, as to the division of the earth into broken fragments, islands and continents, mountains and valleys, we have not been informed; the change must have been considerable.  But after the flood, in the days of Peleg, the earth was divided.—See Gen. 10:25,—a short history, to be sure, of so great an event; but still it will account for the mighty revolution, which rolled the sea from its own place in the north, and brought it to interpose between different portions of the earth, which were thus parted asunder, and moved into something near their present form; this, together with the earthquakes, revolutions, and commotions which have since taken place, have all contributed to reduce the face of the earth to its present state; while the great curses which have fallen upon different portions, because of the wickedness of men, will account for the the stagnant swamps, the sunken lakes, the dead seas, and great deserts.

Then speaking of the restoration we have a continuation as follows:

Thus you see, every mountain being laid low, and every valley exalted, and the rough places being made plain, and the crooked straight, that these mighty revolutions will begin to restore the face of the earth to its former beauty.  But all this done, we have not yet gone through our restoration; there are many more great things to be done, in order to restore all things....

Thus, having cleansed the earth, and glorified it with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea, and having poured out his Spirit upon all flesh, both men and beast becoming perfectly harmless, as they were in the beginning, and feeding on vegetable food only, while nothing is left to hurt or destroy in all the vast creation, the prophets then proceed to give us many glorious descriptions of the enjoyment of its inhabitants.  "They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine of them; they shall plant gardens and eat the fruit of them; they shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall enjoy the work of their hands.  They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth in trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them; and it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear."  In this happy state of existence it seems that all people will live to the full age of a tree, and this too without pain or sorrow, and whatsoever they ask will be immediately answered, and even all their wants will be anticipated.  Of course, then, none of them will sleep in the dust, for they will prefer to be translated; that is, changed in the twinkling of an eye, from mortal to immortal; after which they will continue to reign with Jesus on the earth.

A great council will then be held to adjust the affairs of the world, from the commencement, over which Father Adam will preside as head and representative of the human family.  There have been, in different ages of the world, communications opened between the heavens and the earth.  (Voice of Warning and Government of God, pages 106-115.)


August 29, 1852, the First Presidency asked Orson Pratt to give a discourse on marriage.  In this discourse Elder Pratt said:

The Lord himself solemnized the first marriage pertaining to this globe, and pertaining to flesh and bones here upon this earth.  I do not say pertaining to mortality; for when the first marriage was celebrated, no mortality was here.  The first marriage that we have any account of, was between two immortal beings—old father Adam and old mother Eve; they were immortal beings: death had no dominion nor power over them; and they were capable of enduring forever and ever in their organization....

What would you consider, my hearers, if a marriage was to be celebrated between beings not subject to death?  Would you consider them joined together for a certain number of years, and that then all their covenants were to cease for ever, and the marriage contract to be dissolved?  Would it look reasonable and consistent?  Every heart would say that the work of God is perfect in and of itself, and inasmuch as sin had not brought imperfection upon the globe, what God joined together could not be dissolved, and destroyed and torn asunder by any power beneath the celestial world, consequently it was eternal; the sealing of the great Jehovah upon Adam and Eve was eternal in its nature.  (Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, p. 58.)

Again, July 25, 1852, Elder Orson Pratt preached a wonderful discourse, designated as "A funeral sermon of all Saints and Sinners; also of the heavens and the Earth."  This entire discourse which is printed in the Millennial Star and other publications, should be read by every member of the Church.  It cannot be produced here in its fulness, but the following taken from it has to do with the subject of Adam and the fall.

I will take a text, which you will find recorded in the 51st chapter of the prophecy of Isaiah, and the sixth verse: "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished!"

All things with which we are acquainted, pertaining to this earth of ours, are subject to change; not only man, so far as his temporal body is concerned, but the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the fishes of the sea, and every living thing with which we are acquainted—all are subject to pain and distress, and finally die and pass away; death seems to have universal dominion in our creation.  It certainly is a curious world; it certainly does not look like a world constructed in such manner as to produce eternal happiness; and it would be very far from the truth, I think, for any being at the present time to pronounce it very good; everything seems to show us that goodness, in a great degree, has fled from this creation.  If we partake of the elements, death is there in all its forms and varieties; and when we desire to rejoice, sorrow is there, mingling itself in every cup; and woe, and wretchedness, and misery, seem to be our present doom.

There is something, however, in man, that is constantly reaching forward after happiness, after pleasure, after something to satisfy the longing desire that dwells within his bosom.  Why is it that we have such a desire?  And why is it that it is not satisfied?  Why is it that this creation is so constructed?  And why is it that death reigns universally over all living earthly beings?  Did the great Author of creation construct this little globe of ours subject to all these changes, which are calculated to produce sorrow and death among the beings that inhabit it?  Was this the original condition of our creation?  I answer, no; it was not so constructed.  But how was it made in the beginning?  All things that were made pertaining to this earth were pronounced "very good."  Where there is pain, where there is sickness, where there is sorrow, and where there is death, this saying can not be understood in its literal sense; things cannot be very good where something very evil reigns and has universal dominion.

We are, therefore, constrained to believe, that in the first formation of our globe, as far as the Mosaic history gives us the information, everything was perfect in its formation; that there was nothing in the air, or in the waters or in the solid elements that was calculated to produce misery, wretchedness, unhappiness, or death, in the way that it was then organized; not but what the same elements, organized a little differently, would produce all these effects; but as it was then constructed, we must admit that every particle of air, of water, and earth, was so organized as to be capable of diffusing life and immortality through all the varied species of animated existence—immortality reigned in every department of creation; hence it was pronounced "very good."

When the Lord made the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea, to people the atmospheric heavens, or the watery elements, these fowls and fishes were so constructed in their nature as to be capable of eternal existence.  To imagine anything different from this, would be to suppose the Almighty to form that which was calculated to produce wretchedness and misery.  What says the Psalmist David upon the subject?  He says that all the works of the Lord shall endure forever.  Did not the Lord make the fish?  Did he not make the fowls of the heavens?  Yes.  Did he not make the beasts of the field, and the creeping things, and the insects?  Yes.  Do they endure forever?  They apparently do not; and yet David says all his works are constructed upon that principle.  Is this a contradiction?  No.  God has given some other particulars in relation to these works.  He has permitted the destroyer to visit them, who has usurped a certain dominion and authority, carrying desolation and ruin on every hand; the perfections of the original organizations have ceased.  But will the Lord for ever permit these destructions to reign?  No.  His power exists, and the power of the destroyer exists.  His power exists, and the power of death exists; but his power exceeds all other powers; and consequently wherever a usurper comes in and lays waste any of his works, he will repair these wastes, build up the old ruins, and make all things new: Even the fish of the sea, and the fowls of the heavens, and the beasts of the earth, must yet, in order to carry out the designs of the Almighty, be so constructed as to be capable of eternal existence.

It would be interesting to know something about the situation of things when they were first formed, and how this destroyer happened to make inroads upon this fair creation; what the causes were, and why it was permitted.

Man, when he was first placed upon this earth, was an immortal being, capable of eternal endurance; his flesh and bones, as well as his spirit, were immortal and eternal in their nature; and it was just so with all the inferior creation—the lion, the leopard, the kid, and the cow; it was so with the feathered tribes of creation, as well as those that swim in the vast ocean of waters; all were immortal and eternal in their nature; and the earth itself, as a living being, was immortal and eternal in its nature.  What! is the earth alive too?  If it were not, how could the words of our text be fulfilled, where it speaks of the earth's dying?  How can that die that has no life?  "Lift up your eyes to the heavens above, say the Lord, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner."  What! the earth and the heavens to die?  Yes, the material heavens and the earth must all undergo this change which we call death; and if so, the earth must be alive as well as we.  The earth was so constructed that it was capable of existing as a living being to all eternity, with all the swarms of animals, fowls, and fishes that were first placed upon the face thereof.  But how can it be proved that man was an immortal being?  We will refer you to what the Apostle Paul has written upon this subject: he says that by one man came death; and he tells us how it came: It was by the transgression of one individual that death was introduced here.  But did transgression bring in all these diseases and this sorrow, this misery and wretchedness, over the whole face of this creation?  Is it by the transgression of one person that the very heavens are to vanish away as smoke, and the earth is to wax old like a garment?  Yes, it is by the transgression of one; and if it had not been for his transgression, the earth never would have been subject to death.  Why?  Because the works of the Lord are so constructed as to exist for ever; and if death had come in without a cause, and destroyed the earth, and laid waste the material heavens, and produced a general and utter overthrow and ruin in this fair creation, then the works of the Lord would have ceased to endure according to the promise, being imperfect in their construction, and consequently not very good.

But what was the sin, and what was the nature of it?  I will tell you what it was; it was merely the partaking of a certain kind of fruit.  But, says one, "I should think there is no harm in eating fruit."  There would not be unless God gave a command upon the subject.  There are things in nature that would be evil without a commandment: If there were no commandment, it would be evil for you to murder an innocent being, and your own conscience would tell you it was an evil thing.  It is an evil for any individual to injure another, or to infringe upon the rights of another, independent of any revealed law; for the savage, or that being who has never heard of the written laws of heaven—who has never heard of the revealed laws of God—with regard to these principles—as well as the Saint, knows that it is an evil to infringe upon the rights of another; the very nature of the thing shows that it is an evil; but not so in regard to many other things that are evil; which are only made evil by commandment.

For instance, here is the Sabbath day; a person who never heard the revealed law of God upon the subject, never could conceive that it was an evil to work on the Sabbath day; he would consider it just as right to work on the first day of the week, as on the seventh; he would perceive nothing in the nature of the thing by which he could distinguish it to be an evil.  So with regard to eating certain fruit, it was the commandment of the Great God that made it an evil.  He said to Adam and Eve, "Here are all the fruits of the garden; you may eat of them freely except this one tree that stands in the midst of the garden; now beware for in the day you eat thereof you shall surely die."  Don't we perceive that the commandment made this an evil?  Had it not been for this commandment, Adam would have walked forth and freely partaken of every tree, without any remorse of conscience; just as the savage, who never had heard the revealed will of God, would work on the Sabbath, the same as on any other day, and have no conscience about the matter.  But when a man murders, he knows it to be an injury, and he has a conscience about it, though he never heard of God; and so with thousands of evils.  But why did the Lord place man under these peculiar circumstances?  Why did he not withhold the commandment, if the partaking of the fruit, after the commandment was given, was sin?  Why should there have been a commandment upon the subject at all, inasmuch as there was no evil in the nature of the thing to be perceived or understood?  The Lord had a purpose in view; though he constructed this fair creation, as we have told you, subject to immortality, and capable of eternal endurance, and though he had constructed men capable of living forever, yet he had an object in view in regard to that man, and the creation he inhabited.  What was the object?  And when shall this object be accomplished?

Why, the Lord wanted this intelligent being called man, to prove himself; inasmuch as he was an agent.  He desired that he should show himself approved before his Creator.

How could this be done without a commandment?  Can you devise any possible means?  Is there any person in this congregation having wisdom sufficient to devise any means by which an intelligent being can show himself approved before a superior intelligence, unless it be by administering to that man certain laws to be kept?  No.  Without law, without commandment or rule, there could be no possible way of showing his integrity; it could not be said that he would keep all the laws that govern superior orders of beings, unless he had been placed in a position to be tried, and thus proved whether he would keep them or not.  Then it was wisdom to try the man and the woman, so the Lord gave them this commandment; if he had not intended the man should be tried by this commandment, he never would have planted that tree.  He never would have placed it in the midst of the garden.  Now the very fact that he planted it where the man could have easy access to it, shows that he intended man should be tried by it, and thus prove whether he would keep his commandments or not.  The penalty of disobedience to this law was death.

But could he not give a commandment, without affixing a penalty?  He could not; it would be folly, even worse than folly, for God to give a law to an intelligent being, without affixing a penalty to it if it were broken.  Why?  Because all intelligent beings would discard the very idea of a law being given, which might be broken at pleasure, without the individuals breaking it being punished for their transgression.  They would say—"Where is the principle of justice in the giver of the law?  It is not here: we do not reverence him nor his law; justice does not have an existence in his bosom.  He does not regard his own laws, for he suffers them to be broken with impunity, and trampled under foot by those whom he has made; therefore we care not for him or his laws; nor his pretended justice.  We will rebel against it.  Where would have been the use of it if there had been no penalty affixed?

But what is the nature of this penalty?  It was wisely ordained to be of such a nature as to instruct man.  Penalties inflicted upon human beings here, by governors, kings, or rulers, are generally of such a nature as to benefit them.

Adam was appointed lord of this creation; a great governor, swaying the scepter of power over the whole earth.  When the governor, the person who was placed to reign over this fair creation, had transgressed, all in his dominion had to feel the effects of it, the same as a father or a mother, who transgress certain laws, frequently transmit the effects thereof to the latest generations.

How often do we see certain diseases becoming hereditary, being handed down from father to son for generations?  Why?  Because in the first instance there was a transgression, and the children partook of the effects of it.  And what was the fullest extent of the penalty of Adam's transgression?  I will tell you—it was death.  The death of the immortal tabernacle—of the tabernacle where the seeds of death had not been, that was wisely framed, and pronounced very good; the seeds of death were introduced into it.  How and in what manner?  Some say there was something in the nature of the fruit that introduced mortality.  Be this as it may, one thing is certain, death entered into the system; it came there by some means, and sin was the main spring by which this monster was introduced.  If there had been no sin, our father Adam would at this day have been in the garden of Eden, as bright and as blooming, as fresh and as fair, as ever, together with his lovely consort Eve, dwelling in all the beauty of youth.

By one man came death—the death of the body.  What becomes of the spirit when the body dies?  Will it be perfectly happy?  Would old father Adam's spirit have gone back into the presence of God, and dwelt there eternally, enjoying all the felicities and glories of heaven, after his body had died?  No; for the penalty of that transgression was not limited to the body alone.  When he sinned, it was with both the body and the spirit that he sinned.  It was not only the body that ate of the fruit, but the spirit gave the will to eat; the spirit sinned therefore as well as the body; they were agreed in partaking of that fruit.  Was not the spirit to suffer then as well as the body?  Yes.  How long?  To all ages of eternity, without any end, while the body was to return back to its mother earth, and there slumber to all eternity.  That was the effect of the fall, leaving out the plan of redemption; so that, if there had been no plan of redemption prepared from before the foundation of the world, man would have been subject to an eternal dissolution of the body and spirit—the one to lie mingling with its mother earth, to all ages of eternity, and the other to be subject, throughout all future duration, to the power that deceived him, and led them astray; to be completely miserable, or as the Book of Mormon says, "dead as to things pertaining to righteousness."  (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pp. 280-284.)

[The above is excerpted from "Testimony of Early Brethren," chapter nineteen in Joseph Fielding Smith's book Man: His Origin and Destiny.  All italics are in the original.]

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Sunday, May 15, 2005


I have put together an illustration that helps me visualize the gospel view of the four stages of earth's existence.  This is the image in my mind when I think of the time before the fall when there was no death.  Both the beginning and the end of mortality are shown.

The current scientific view is also illustrated.  According to this view, the present order of nature extends back "approximately 20 billion years" (Big bang theory, American Heritage Dictionary, 2000) with the earth being "4.5 billion to 5 billion years old" ("Earth, in geology and astronomy," Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004).

Many LDS scientists would agree with the gospel view (as illustrated) that mortality for the earth and man will have an end.  I'm confident they would also agree that mortality had a beginning, but the question is when was that beginning.

Missing the first act of the play

Latter-day revelation seems to suggest a gospel view that the current order of nature began abruptly six thousand years ago with the fall of Adam.  Yet, some LDS scientists, because of the concept of uniformitarianism, consider the scientific view superior to the gospel view as it applies to the past.  (Interestingly, many of these same scientists do not question the gospel view as it applies to the future.)

In some ways, this is like arriving late to a play, missing the first act (the creation), and formulating their own ideas about the first act based on what they observe in the second act (mortality) instead of first talking to those who actually saw the first act.  These individuals, for some reason, cannot believe that the scenery has been changed.

Yet Prophets have seen the creation (the first act) and have written about it.  Moses, for example, "beheld the world and the ends thereof [and] cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God"  (Moses 1:8, 27).

And with respect to the first act (the creation), the voice of the Church for the past thirty years has been clear and unified and continuous.  The creation was paradisiacal.  There was no mortality.  Death for all forms of life began when Adam fell.

Donald W. Parry on uniformitarianism

Donald W. Parry is an assistant professor of Hebrew at Brigham Young University and a member of the international team of translators of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  In a Jan. 1998 Ensign, he said this about uniformitarianism:

"The concept of uniformitarianism,... has been described simply in this way: 'The present is the key to the past.' Uniformitarianism, first postulated by James Hutton in 1795, proposes three primary concepts: (a) there were no processes (such as geologic processes) operating in the past which are not operating now; (b) there are no processes operating now which were not operating in the past; and (c) process rates have not changed.  Because modern scientists observe geologic change to be relatively slow now, many have naturally concluded that geologic processes have always been slow.  Yet uniformitarianism, a premise on which much of geologic science is based, is an idea, not a fact.  With our limited knowledge, it presently is a powerful paradigm for examining the earth, and given our ignorance of how the Lord has done things, it does help explain many things.  The science that uses the idea has found for us such things as gas, oil, and certain types of minerals.

"Yet although uniformitarianism is a powerful perspective, it is still a premise, not a fact.  Uniformitarianism cannot explain all of the oddities and anomalies about the earth.  Further, it neglects a God who can speak and have the dust of the earth obey, who can move mountains at will, and who can divide the Red Sea.  As Latter-day Saints, we have scriptural evidence that God has intervened in the affairs of the earth and modified the landscape on numerous occasions.  Among other things, he changed the earth's environment after the Fall, he gave Enoch power to move mountains and rivers before the Deluge, he caused the Flood, and he was the cause of the catastrophic events in America at the Savior's death.

"For Latter-day Saints, the Flood [as also no death before the fall] is a matter of faith and belief.  We believe in many events that today we cannot scientifically explain.  For example, in a world where change and death are the norm, the scriptures promise immortality and eternal life.  Indeed the scriptures teach that this earth will be burned (see 2 Pet. 3:10), receive a resurrection (D&C 88:26), and become a celestial kingdom (D&C 88:17–18).  Such future events will make the incident of the Flood look like child's play in comparison.

"Further, with all of the advancements of science in recent decades, we still cannot explain how angels are able to defy gravity and descend or ascend through a building's ceiling (see JS—H 1:43); how rapid interplanetary travel is possible for heavenly beings (see D&C 130:6–7); how a righteous man can raise the dead using God's power (see 1 Kgs. 17:17–23); how heavenly messengers can appear to mortals (see D&C 110:2, 11–13); or how Jesus Christ's divine sacrifice is able to atone for our sins.

"Though we cannot yet explain the physics or dynamics behind those events, we look forward to the time when the Lord will come and explain them.  In the Millennium—a time of great physical change in the earth—he will  ' reveal all things—

" ' Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—

" ' Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven '  (D&C 101:32–34)."  (Donald W. Parry, "The Flood and the Tower of Babel," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 35.)

Hugh Nibley on uniformitarianism

In 1973, Hugh Nibley said this about uniformitarianism:

"We have all grown up in a world nurtured on the comfortable Victorian doctrine of uniformitarianism, the idea that what happens in this world is all just more of the same: what lies ahead is pretty much what lies behind, for the same forces that are at work on the earth today were at work in the same manner, with the same intensity and the same effects, at all times past and will go on operating inexorably and irresistibly in just the same way forever hereafter.  There is no real cause for alarm in a world where everything is under control beneath the watchful eye of science as evolution takes its undeviating forward course, steady, sure, reliable, imperceptibly slow and gentle, and gratifyingly predictable.

" ' The skies as far as the utmost star, are clear of any malignant Intelligences,'  wrote an eminent British scholar of the 1920s,  ' and even the untoward accidents of life are due to causes comfortably impersonal.... The possibility that the Unknown contains Powers deliberately hostile to him is one the ordinary modern man can hardly entertain even in imagination.'

"In such a world one needed no longer to run to God for comfort.  The matter-of-fact, no-nonsense approach of science had, since the days of the Miletian school and the ancient Atomists, banished all childish fears and consigned the horrendous and spectacular aspects of the human past and future to the realm of myth and fantasy.

"Quite recently, however, scientists have noted with a shock that in looking forward not to the distant but to the immediate future what they discern is not just more of the same but something totally different, something for which they confess themselves entirely unprepared, since it is all entirely unexpected.  The idea that what lies ahead is by no means the simple and predictable projection of our knowledge of the present has, as John Lear points out, reconditioned our minds for another look at the past as well as the future.  Since the past is wholly a construction of our own imaginations, we have always found there just what we expected to find, i.e., more of the same.  But now  ' future shock '  has prepared us for  ' past shock,'  and we find ourselves almost forced to accept a view of the past that is utterly alien to anything in the experience of modern man."  (Hugh Nibley, "The Genesis of the Written Word," New Era, Sept. 1973, 38.)

F. Kent Nielsen on uniformitarianism

F. Kent Nielsen teaches the history of science and the philosophy of science at Brigham Young University.  His thoughts about uniformitarianism were published in a 1980 Ensign article.

"The laws which maintain the natural order constitute  ' truth,'  which is  ' independent '  only  ' in that sphere in which God has placed [them] '  (D&C 93:30).  Thus, as Latter-day Saints we understand how science can discover truths about our present order.  In other words, as Latter-day Saints, we recognize that there are some limitations about the extent of uniformity in our present mortal order of nature.

"The first limitation [on uniformitarianism] is that the same order or set of laws does not necessarily extend to other  ' spheres.'  A sanctified, millennial world, or a glorified celestial world, or a pre-Fall paradisiacal world obviously functions under a different order of nature.  Its order—perfectly  ' natural '  to it—would seem  ' unnatural '  to our mortal world.  Imagine, for instance, the biology of a world in which there is no death.  Or try to fit the second law of thermodynamics (which states that all energy processes of the universe are  ' running down ' ) into a world of eternal progression.  Clearly, God has placed us in one  ' sphere,'  but there may be many other types of  ' spheres '  for us to learn about at some future time.

"The second limitation the gospel places on the concept of uniformity is that the same God  ' who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power '  has the power to perform miracles—to make what appears to us to be temporary exceptions to the order of nature as we understand it—if it is his will to do so (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel.  Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 345).  These miracles, however, may be the result of higher laws for our  ' sphere '  that are not understood by us.  Thus, since God has promised that he will indeed exercise his power if we seek him in faith, he encourages us to seek his aid.  Mormon scolded the people of his day for thinking that miracles had ceased.  He wrote:  ' Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.

" ' For it is by faith that miracles are wrought;... wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief '  (Moro. 7:33, 37).  His son, Moroni, reinforced the message by asking his future readers:  ' And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things [events to occur at the time of the resurrection of the dead] passed, of which I have spoken?  Has the end come yet?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles '  (Morm. 9:15).

"To Latter-day Saints, the image of God as a master machinist, setting up an unalterable course of nature, contradicts our knowledge of him as a loving Father who wants his children to seek after him in prayerful faith for the fulfillment—even the miraculous fulfillment—of their righteous desires.

"The third clarification the gospel gives us [about uniformitarianism] is a reminder that time will change the order of nature—even in our present, mortal world.  When the earth was  ' new,'  before the Fall, it was in a paradisiacal state, and  ' if Adam had not transgressed... all things which were created must have... remained forever, and had no end '  (2 Ne. 2:22).  Both man and animals ate only plants (see Gen. 1:29–30).  Adam and Eve would have had no children (see 2 Ne. 2:23).  Apparently, the earth did not then bring forth  ' thorns... and thistles '  to vex man (Gen. 3:18).  These are just three differences between that state of the earth and our current one.  Because of the Fall,  ' the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,'  waiting with  ' earnest expectation '  to  ' be delivered from the bondage of corruption,'  when the redemption shall bring its present condition to an end (Rom. 8:22, 19, 21).

"The present condition of the earth will end when Christ comes to reign personally upon the earth, giving it again its  ' paradisiacal glory '  (A of F 1:10).  For,  ' as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it... even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth '  (D&C 77:12).  This coming sanctification of our sphere will not result from [uniformitarianism, or] the present natural order uniformly continuing its course.  Instead, that order will change drastically because of the direct intervention of its Creator and Maintainer.  All living things and even the elements of the earth  ' shall become new, that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth '  (D&C 101:24–25)."  ("The Gospel and the Scientific View: How Earth Came to Be", Ensign, Sept. 1980, 67.)


As quoted above, uniformitarianism is a powerful paradigm for examining the earth and it helps explain many things, but it is an idea, not a fact.  And although uniformitarianism is a useful perspective, it cannot explain everything about the earth.  Uniformitarianism does not even contemplate a God who can speak and have the dust of the earth obey, "Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved" (Helaman 12:8-13), or who can move mountains at will (Matt. 17:20, Ether 12:30, and Moses 7:13).  A scientist attempting to interpret the results of events such as these that have happened in the past would be confused to say the least if uniformitarianism were the only acceptable evaluation method.

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