Essentialism and Adam (Again)

The good ol' Practical Mormon over at LDeSsays recently posted on Adam saying many things which to my suspicious ears sounded like a rebutal to the numerous posts on Adam which I have recently written. The unsuspecting author suddenly had to answer to a visibly defensive "Brother Giliam" through no fault of his own. There was a brief exchange which could have lasted much longer had I not quickly realized 1) the post was not intended as a rebuttal so I shouldn't get too riled up and 2) since Clark also had some issues with my use of essentialism and Adam it would be best if I gave the topic a more full treatment than could be given in any exchange.

Let me first describe the Practical Mormons version of Adam, which from my reading Mormon websites seems to be the most popular attempt at reconciliation.
If there are a finite number of souls (or at least, a finite number destined for this earth), and if we are to take seriously the notion of a council in heaven -- which we believe is elemental to Mormonism -- then we must acknowledge that -- mitochondria or no -- there was an Adam, a first man.... It doesn't matter which bipod got the first spirit. It doesn't matter how that bipod came into existence. The fact is, that's the bipod we call Adam.

If I understand him correctly he suggests that once Adam came to earth, that was the first spirit child of God. Adam's physical parents were not. Adam's contemporaries neither. The contemporaries' child, I assume, were not either, nor were their children until they were eventually bred into Adam's lineage.

Now, does this account for the evidence which evolution gives us? Yes, it does, therefore this is a viable option. However, is this really embracing evolution as a scientific truth as opposed to mere prehistory? I don't think so. This version seems to be treating evolution as if it were some obnoxious problem or obstacle which God had to deal with as opposed to being a wonderful fact of life which God could use to His advantage.

Despite the reasoning he uses to come to his conclusion, this theory is motivated, in my opinion, by a desire to separate us from the "lower" life forms. "We are the children of God, who care what those other hominids were." It was this very same motive which "inspired" philosophers and early Christians to separate God from us. "There is human and divine, never the twain shall meet" has been replaced with "There are humans which can become divine and animals, never the twain shall meet."

In fact it is in the context of our divine potential that some church leaders have (somewhat incorrectly) used the term evolution. Why should we accept spiritual evolution when there is no physical evidence for it but reject it when there is physical evidence for it as in the case of human origens?

As I said in the last post, Abraham describes how we are all intelligences, some being more intelligent than others. This is the case all the way up to the Lord, who is the most intelligent of them all, down to... what? Is it down to the stupidest human and there it stops? If so, who is the stupidest of them all? Even the least intelligent human, I would suggest, is still pretty intelligent. Are we to suggest that not one organism that cannot trace its lineage back to Adam has intelligence in this sense of the word? Quite frankily, I'm not at all comfortable with this.

The Practical Mormon goes on to say:
There is spirit -- a finer matter than matter -- and there are individual Spirits (for our purposes, with an upper-case S). There is likewise intelligence -- a finer thing than spirit, and that which inhabits all matter -- and there are Intelligences: eternal individuals, equal to God, first housed in bodies of spirit, the combination of which are later housed in bodies of flesh. Rocks have intelligence. Do animals have intelligence or Intelligence? We're neutral -- having our suspicions, but not wanting to offend rabid animal lovers. Do people embody individual Intelligences, organized and called up as children of God? The scriptures are absolute. Yes.

Nice try. The scriptures, especially the Book of Abraham which he is using as his source, are nowhere near as absolute as he would have them be. The Book of Abraham does not speak of spirit matter, nor does it distinguish between intelligence and Intelligence. In fact, it doesn't really even mention a spiritual creation. Instead it speaks of numerous planning sessions similar to what we see in the temple. The organization described is not a creation of anything, contrary to what Cleon Skousen may teach. It was the organizing of people into "families" or groups.

In other words, what the Book of Abraham is saying is that there are intelligences, self-existent intelligences, which are co-eternal with God. They were never created in any way, but they can become more or less intelligent. These intelligences were organized in someway, probably according to how they would come to Earth. The spiritual creation then starts, not a creation using spirit matter, but a planning period where the gods prepared things to happen later. Eventually the gods went down in the physical creation and did as they planned.

Now, are animals "intelligences"? Abraham doesn't really say either way, but I think what we know about evolution almost forces us to confess 'yes.' Otherwise we will say that Adam was born, a glorious son of God, to animals which had no intelligence in the spiritual sense. This seems absurd. Do rocks have intelligence? It all depends on what in the world an intelligence is. If they do, however, it is so far down the scale to not even worry about.

There is another issue brought up by our denying intelligence to all who are not descended for Adam. When Adam came about 6,000 years ago, there was no essential difference between him and his contemporaries physically speaking. He might have been a bit smarter, but only a bit. Biologically speaking, he was but a face in the crowd. If we are to suggest that Adam was an intelligence, while everybody else around him, including his parents, did not, we automatically make intelligence of little value. If Adam was an intelligence, and his best friend was not, it would seem that being an intelligence makes no notable difference whatsoever in our current lives. I'm simply not willing to accept that.

It is with this in mind that I have suggested that our spirit birth should be seen as some form of adoption. Whether this mean God created man just as He creates animals spiritually, but thereafter dubs him His 'son', or if we actually deal with self-existing spirit, some of which are eventually adopted and then dubbed His 'son' it makes little difference. Whereas a literal spirit birth is an all or nothing dichotomy, adoption allows for varying degrees of "son-ship." For more details see here.

Another problem which I see with the all or nothing son-ship has to do with my last post. It suggest that it gets very difficult to maintain that animals which were not intelligences could be inspired. In fact, isn't this the very reason why some want to keep us separate from the animals? I find the evolution of spirituality very difficult without adopting some form of spirit adoption.

While other issues could be raised, I think that they are unnecessary. If we are to fully embrace evolution as opposed to viewing it as an obstacle, both to God's creation and our faith, we should accept spiritual gradualism. We should not attempt to establish large essential differences between Adam and his peers.

Summary: While it is possible to believe that Adam was the very first son of God in any way to walk the earth, this is not embracing evolution. Adopting a form of adoption which better fits with the gradualism inherent in evolution would be a better path which allows for a richer understanding of the creation and animal life around us.


This is what I don't understand. Why do animals have to be co-eternal intelligences? If we are willing to say that they are so far down the scale of intelligences to not need saving ordinances, what good does eternity do for them anyway? I know some people argue that, in that case, I shouldn't consider mentally deficient humans as intelligences either, but the case there is different. A normal healthy human is unequivalently more "intelligent" than any normal healthy animal (dolphins excluded, of course). 

Posted by John C.

5/11/2005 05:19:00 AM  

Now the animals which concern us most in this topic are not kangaroos or something like that. I am talking about hominids, especially those which are our ancestors and have lived in the past couple hundred thousand years. We can't find any significant difference where we could draw any line. This, however, is the case all the way back 4 billion years. There never is an essential gap or transition from one species to another. We can never tell when a new species in beginning, we can only tell when a new species has arisen in the past sometime. There is simply no place to draw the line between self-existent spirit and non-self-existent spirit.

We should also not get caught up about looking for a purpose for animals having self-existent spirits. There is no purpose for thier or our self-existence. Nobody ever said, I will make man self-existent for so and so a reason because we were never made to be self-existent, we were never made at all. There is no reason at all for our spiritual self-existence, that's just the way it is. We shouldn't, therefore, demand a reason for animals to be self-existent. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/11/2005 09:54:00 AM  

But what I was getting at is that I don't see any need to believe that animals are self-existent. Admittedly, this is probably an unprovable point, operating on the knowledge that we have today. I just don't understand why, in the economy of God, self-existence in animals should be assumed (and I am willing to include hominids in this). 

Posted by John C.

5/11/2005 10:49:00 AM  

I'm not claiming that animals are self-existent, I am claiming that spirits are self-existent. I am also claiming that animals also have spirits, spirits (in the case of hominids) which we cannot assume are different from ours in any significant way. Thus, I extend the possession of self-existent spirits all the way down.

The big issue here is what is an intelligence/spirit? Clark dealt with this somewhat about a month ago or so and I plan on posting on it in the near future. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/11/2005 11:32:00 AM  

I don't mean to seem obtuse, but the point I am trying to make is that I don't see why we cannot assume that animal spirits (even hominid spirits) are different from ours in any significant way. Can you explain why this must be so? 

Posted by John C.

5/11/2005 12:11:00 PM  

Don't worry, as long as you don't flat out call me stupid or anything like that, I'm not going to get upset, even if you think that I am completely wrong.

The main issue is the idea of a first man. Biologically speaking, there was none. Given evolution, this term simply makes no sense at all. Now we can say that there was one spiritually but this forces us into a couple of conclusions:

1) Adam had a spirit (it the sense you are trying to deny animals) while his parents, his friends and neighbors and their children as well did not.

2) Since these people were not different than Adam in any significant way, then we would have to conclude that having a real spirit, isn't very significant in this life.

3) This seems to be saying that while evolution has happened, it isn't really an eternal law. We are merely covering the appearances of evolution while not embracing it.

Now if you can accept these consequences, fine. I imagine many, if not most, members will continue to view things this way. I, however, cannot. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/11/2005 12:30:00 PM  

Jeffrey, at some point homo sapiens had consciousness of a sort that no other apes have. Thus far no one has made much progress at determining what consciousness is or how it is. Why not say that spirits do this? (I'm not suggesting that I necessarily agree with placing Adam into all this - I tend to prefer keeping him 6000 years ago) Even under evolution there has to be at least one creature that has consciousness or quasi-consciousness first.

Even if you allow consciousness of a sort to apes, dophins, and perhaps even fish , it does seem that there is a huge difference between even the smartest ape and a human. Only humans have a kind of self-reflective questioning. (As Heidegger puts it, only Dasein (humanity) can ask the question of being)

So there is, even under evolution, a certain point of difference when that system "turned on."


Posted by Clark

5/11/2005 09:43:00 PM  

I don't think that I agree with you very much at all on this point. Babies are hardly born fully conscious. What was the time exactly that you became quasi-conscious or fully conscious? Is it not better to suggest that there are degrees of consciousness. And if there are degrees of it we are able to comfortably situation consciousness in evolution as well.

One can say that spirits do have a hand in this, but I would be VERY uncomfortable throwing all of the biology out of it as well. And if biology is involved, then we have to look toward evolution.

I personally think that consciousness as we know it is intimately intertwined with language as one's being able to talk to oneself silently. It is not very hard to imagine the evolution of this process. You are right, that we don't know very much about consciousness but huge strides are being made today in that direction (consider Dennett's Consciousness Explained and his follow up which just came out a month ago Sweet Dreams). While there is definitely work to be done, in my opinion, to take issue with evolution based on consciousness in to build one's house upon the sand. It's almost like a "consciousness of the gaps" theology. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/12/2005 09:55:00 AM  

Consciousness is an important distinguisher of humans though. Although we may not believe that babies are fully conscious, they have that potential, whereas apes, no matter how well developed, do not.

This is what I was trying to get at with my mention of proxy baptisms for homo erectus elsewhere here. If we are giving animals souls that are fundamentally the same as ours, then we have to provide a means for redeeming those souls theologically, just like one had to be provided for the redemption of human souls. 

Posted by John C.

5/12/2005 03:21:00 PM  

Nobody is claiming that Apes have consciousness. Nobody is claiming that Apes have any kind of potential for consciousness. I am merely claiming that there are degree of consciousness, and if there are degrees then there is not problem in evolution. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/12/2005 03:27:00 PM  

The scriptures also may speak of intelligence as referring to the spirit element that existed before we were begotten as spirit children. Once that intelligence is organized, it becomes a spiritual body (see guide to the scriptures)

It may also exist as the organization of matter in all things. It is the light of truth, which gives life, and light to all things in the universe. It has always existed (see guide to the scriptures). I have a poor grasp of physics, but I believe that matter exists and is organized in its state due to God’s willing it to be so. I think the answers regarding spirits and the nature of how things are lie more in that realm rather than in evolution. Evolution is a process that describes a telestial existence (or a fallen world).

I wonder that if prior to the fall of Adam and Eve, that they existed in a different type of creation that follows different physical laws than are found in a telestial existence. It may be that the fall moved Adam and Eve to this earth. You will notice that the scriptures describe ‘higher’ kingdoms as having the lamb and the lion lying together or none shall hurt or make afraid.

Maybe the fall represents the beginning of the operations of telestial kingdom’s laws upon all existence. Everything about this world in its fallen state is a reflection of the struggle between good and evil. The laws we are subject to exist as teaching examples of Lehi’s teaching about opposition in all things. Evolution’s ways are Satan’s ways. Survival of the fittest being the way of Satan's plan and his desire to rule over all was why he desired us here to be able to continue to wage war against God. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ "Screwtape Letters" and the end of the letters being the consumption of the weaker devil by the stronger. I think we feared Satan in the pre-existence because he was very intelligent, very cunning and very ambitious. We are told that if no atonement would have been made we would become subject to him.

This earth that we now reside upon may not have had death start until the fall since all things being present before the Lord and time is a relative concept. I think that all things have a spirit and a physical form. That intelligence or light which emanates from God is what gives the universe order. Those things with more intelligence exist in an order of some being greater (in intelligence) than others. When enough intelligence is possessed to provide agency then accountability comes into play. Each living organism here operates with some volition. The difference is that we are able to discern good and evil and understand that our actions reflect an internal state.

As to to the pre-historic remains of men we have to contenc with in our explanation of things, I have no sure answers. Since all things have spirits they must be part of God’s creation and I would just wonder that the determining factor would be accountability as to whether or not they were ‘human’.


Posted by Taylor Payne

5/12/2005 11:00:00 PM  

Rather than say humans in my last paragraph, say 'in need of the atonement'. 

Posted by Taylor Payne

5/12/2005 11:56:00 PM  

I need to clarify my thinking on my last post.

Evolution (as described by survival of the fittest) is a law of telestial kingdoms. It represents a fallen existence that provides for opposition in all things as all kinds of life compete for limited resources, space and locations. It represents how life is, as it would be governed under a system where those who are ‘more fit’ dominate those who are ‘less fit’.

The economy of our Heavenly Father is one of eternal resources. Each of us who qualify for celestial glory will receive all that he has. We will be the ones who are allowed to ‘procreate’ eternally as that is the definition of eternal life. Those who qualify for that, reject the concepts of a fallen existence, and share their limited resources, lose their lives to find them and are meek and humble rather than aggressive, assertive and proud. To live above the concepts represented by this telestial existence shows we desire a greater glory and desire to live in a fashion that through our obedience we qualify for the grace of God to make us perfect and heirs of ‘all that the father hath’.

Then, my last paragraph is not clear when considered in the context of the rest of my thinking. I think that is because I have problems reconciling all of the archeological finds of early humanity with the account of Adam and Eve. I understand that prior to the fall that the existence of the earth (or wherever they dwelt) was different (in either location or status) from where we live now. I accept the account of the fall as an event where they used their agency to commence the plan of salvation by starting spiritual death and physical death. How that fall worked in regards to death on this planet and those creatures that we find that lived and died before I cannot say. There have been other planets where death surely existed. I think that the death that is referred to in the fall is in regards to the aforementioned deaths (temporal and spiritual) and their relationship to Adam and Eve’s descendents.

Posted by Taylor Payne

5/13/2005 12:56:00 AM  

I was going to address each of your points in a long response but it became clear to me that you are not interested in a reconciliation so both of our comments would probably fall on deaf ears. I find the evidence for evolution to be simply undeniable and simply must be addressed. You think that evolution isn't true at all really. With such different paradigms communication will be difficult at best.


Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/13/2005 10:23:00 AM  

My point is that you are unwilling to draw the line for early hominids (which is why you are avoiding a specific Adam). But if you are going to say we don't need to worry about Ape consciousness, then a line has to be drawn. There has to be a point where we start worrying. What species are we willing to identify as having consciousness enough to qualify for the need for redemption? 

Posted by John C.

5/13/2005 11:15:00 AM  

I can see where you are coming from. I should be clear that evolutionists don't refuse to draw any line at all, but there recognize that any line will be arbitrary and thus refuse to draw a specific line any where. Are modern humans the same as Cro-Magnon? No, there is a line between the two, but where exactly this line is nobody is willing to say since such a question has little or no meaning in evolution. We can say that at point A they were Cro-magnons and at point B, 20,000 years later, they weren't so Cro-magnon like anymore. This is acceptable and I would be willing to accept analogous reasoning with regards to consciousness (in fact all evolutionists do). But to make the line span 1,000 years or less, let alone a single generation, is absurd and will be rejected by myself and others. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/13/2005 11:25:00 AM  


On the contrary, I think evolution is an ongoing event here upon this fallen existence. This state is the nature of how things would be in an existence governed by Satan. It is the setting for opposition which we all must experience to become exhaulted.

Having said that, I also believe that the earth existed in a different state prior to the fall. I don't know (as I said before) if the fall changed the earth itself or if the fallen changed location. Something of this manner had to occur to reconcile the scriptural accounts to the findings of science.

If all truth will be compiled into a whole at the end, then the truths of the scriptures and the current knowledge we have about this earth (the true parts) will not be in conflict. I don't know why their appears to be such a conflict now unless it somehow reflects our 'modernist' minds and way of thinking and the stories of the scriptures are more allegorical than factual.

I find that concept difficult in light of statements made by prophets regarding Adam and Eve, the scriptures and the Fall. It is like there exists a double paradigm inside my head that I am not able to resolve.

I have been considering evolution for some time. I think I understand its basic concepts fairly well. I am aware of very strong scientific evidence in favor of its support and that current biologic theory rests upon its tennants.

I also have a testimony of the gospel. It is not something that I can demonstrate to anybody who wants scientific evidence. Yet, to me it is very real and most valuable.

I have great difficulty assigning allegorical status to the scriptures in light of the Articles of Faith and other statements made by Latter-day prophets. So, if the scriptures are true and evolution is a fact of this earth in its current state, I have concluded that there must be an explanation such as the ones I posted that allows for the differences that we see.

That is why I stated that the Fall either changed the state of the earth in location and/or function to such a state that we see today as compared to what is reported in the scriptures. The chronology of Adam and Eve and all of the findings of archeologists/palentologists are difficult to reconcile with the scriptural account of Adam and Eve as being upon this earth. 

Posted by Taylor Payne

5/13/2005 08:26:00 PM  

Taylor - Hi. I haven't posted here for a while. I am working on what I would consider a "true" reconciliation. For me, scientific fact (as opposed to theory) must conform to basic Mormon doctrine, as correlated in the 4 Standard Works and by the Apostolic counsels that hold divine keys for interpreting doctrine. Each "side" of the potential conflict here is not treated equally, from what I have seen. Evolution is treated as a fact, Doctrine as we know it is treated as a theory. In the reconciliation so far, appeal must be made to often obscure, anti-scriptural beliefs of earlier brethren who speak "off the record," in order to stretch "doctrine" to the point that it is ONLY theoretical in nature. I will give you just one of the multitude of potential examples: "We are not literal spirit children of God." (See Jeff's reconciliation). This goes against the Proclaimation on the Family. As evolutionists also don't believe that we are physically descended from God, why, He is not really our father at all. This example is only the tip of what is becoming a very large iceberg for me.

I like your basic paradigm about our mortal state here being really apples compared to oranges. Having recently toured Universal City, a view I am developing is that the whole "fallen" universe that scientists measure, test, and theorize about is actually like a movie set, or stage props. The "real" universe, that we know is immortal in nature, and dominated by spirit element, is the normal state of things and where we all live 99.9999% of the time. Mortality, instead, may be compared to a movie set. Thus, by studying aspects of the fallen universe, we won't find out any more "truths" about who we really are than by studying the fascades, soundstages, and snow-machines at Universal City (wow, I just noticed a possible pun).

If this site were really about "Reconciliation," then both sides would be treated like relativity and quantum mechanics are in physics, and solutions would be sought that leave both Doctrine and Science equally intact. Instead, it seems "within the rules" to mine Church history for obscure, anti-scriptural feaux doctrines to keep Theology "in play," but, meanwhile, we have to pretend that glaring evolutionary problems like "irreducible complexity" have been solved to maintain evolutionary theory as hard, proven, irrefutable fact.

Summary. In my view, the activity here is not reconciliation. Doctrine, as far as 95% of active Latter Day Saints know it, is not treated as fact. Instead, it relegated to "Theory" and subject to drastic revision. Evolution is fact, and not subject to question. In my opinion, "Reconciliation" is not the correct word for what is going on here. I will put this idea out as a challenge, and try to come up with a better definition to present.

Posted by Greg

5/14/2005 12:37:00 PM  

I miss your comments here. That said, a number of clarifications should be made.

1) There are ways which have been proposed to have God be our Father, but to believe in a literal spirit birth (this is different than being literal spirit children) can find no home in evolution unfortunately. If somebody can find a way to have their cake and eat it too, I would love to here it. I won't dismiss it just because evolutionists don't teach it, however I do require that any "reconciliation" accept evolution as fact (to say otherwise actually gets us nowhere). One can say that God created all spirits and some were special in a way which qualified them to be called children of God, but again, this is not a literal spirit birth. There can be no sharp line distinguishing modern man from man who lived 10,000 years ago.

2) Doctrine is not treated as theory here as something which can be accepted, modified or rejected at will. However, to say that what the church teaches is the entire truth goes against what those very same leaders have themselves said. We don't know the whole story, and I don't claim to be an exception to this rule. I present what seems to me to be a Mormon's best bet, but I'm always open to suggestions (this is why I miss Greg's comments so much). Joseph Smith didn't believe in a literal spirit birth, so if you reject me for believing as he did, so much worse for you in my opinion (that probably sounds much more harsh than it is intended). Mormon doctrine is hardly monolithic, the same can be said for evolution. There are, however, things in both camps of which everybody is sure of. Can these essential things be reconciled? I think so, and I think that we have actually done a bang up job in the process. Here are the main doctrines which I see we are forced to reject: 1) literal spirit birth (but not a spirit creation) 2) the idea that there was no death before Adam and Eve 3) the idea that all humanity descended exclusively from a single pair, Adam and Eve, about 6,000 years ago 4) we are created completely separately and distinctly from animals. This isn't all that much really, and anybody who really accepts evolution (not just the evidence mind you) is pretty much compelled to reject these things as well.

I will address your comments after all, but in another comment and/or post. It's good to have you. In the meantime you might want to review our reconciliaton notebooks which we have linked in the side bar of our homepage. There you will find the summaries of our posts along with links to each one. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/14/2005 01:08:00 PM  

Matching the gradation of intelligences in the Book of Abraham with the gradations among and between species is an interesting gambit, Jeffrey. But I can't shake the sense that removing traditional spirit birth takes something out of the heart of Mormonism, as it seems to redefine exaltation. 

Posted by Christian Y. Cardall

5/14/2005 01:21:00 PM  

I understand what you are saying. Perhaps, though, it would be profitable for us to see what Joseph meant by exaltation if he didn't believe in a spirit birth. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/14/2005 01:24:00 PM  

D&C 132:19-20 defines it as a "continuation of the seeds," the ability of the husband and wife to "continue." Does adoption alone satisfy this? It sounds like they are able to impart something of themselves to another generation. 

Posted by Christian Y. Cardall

5/14/2005 01:34:00 PM  

Joseph seems to have believed this to be a physical birth.

Does anybody actually believe that there is a Mother in Heaven (a doctrine which is a total by-product of the Adam/God theory I might add) that is giving birth to billions and billions of spirit children for each earth? I thought this was already absurd enough. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/14/2005 01:37:00 PM  

This physical birth could have been in two ways 1) God fathering Adam or 2) God being Adam. I know that most (especially Greg) won't like the second, but the first one, combined with any notion of adoption one wishes to add to it, hardly lies on the fringes of Mormonism. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/14/2005 01:41:00 PM  

Jeffrey, I would guess that most Mormons probably do believe in Heavenly Mother giving birth to billions of spirit children. Perhaps we should do a poll on it at some point! ;->

I know you gave me a reference once before, but do you have it handy again, regarding what Joseph supposedly believed about the eternity of spirits, procreation in eternity, etc.?

God procreating the "Adam" of each inhabitated planet is indeed one way to "save" procreation in eternity, but in this way it would take an awful lot of earths to arrive at posterity as numerous as the sands of the seashore! 

Posted by Christian Y. Cardall

5/14/2005 01:52:00 PM  

For one, read the King Follett discourse where the coequality of spirits is set forth.

Also see the book Line Upon Line for a number of essays which deal with the subject. (One of my favorite books dealing with Mormon Doctrine.) 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/14/2005 01:59:00 PM  

Here  is some good ol' fashion fun for those who can appreciate a good light hearted laugh. Thanks Jared. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/14/2005 02:51:00 PM  

One of your assumptions that I find as too big of a compromise is the accepting of evolution as fact and the teachings of the gospel as theory. That is too big of a surrender for my tastes. It would seem that you (even though it makes your task harder) should start eating from the other side of this elephant. If you assign too much of the gospel to ‘mythological’ status you endanger relegating the true meat of the gospel to a state of unimportance. I have considered that way of thinking for myself and come away frightened of where it takes me because I know what I know.

I would prefer to remain a creationist and be mocked than go too far the other way. I have been watching several forums on evolution and have been embarrassed for the ‘creationists’ as they got chewed up by the evolutionists. The one thing I can say for them is that they leave with their faithfulness to the witness of Christ intact. That is the thing I admire about them. I almost feel that their belief is like the Nephites of old who were waiting for the sign of the birth of Christ to appear and it got to the point where they were going to be put to death because their beliefs 'were not reasonable'. (see last chapter of Helaman and first chapter of 3 Nephi).

Now, if we can eat the elephant from the side where we accept known spiritual truths I am happy to help. I cannot start from the other side and shouldn't waste your time.

Did you hear the talk in last fall’s General Conference about “But if Not”? I believe we have to take that stand towards wherever we go with this. The supernal truths of the gospel cannot be compromised to the point that you seem willing to take them.

This is a part of a post I left on another section of your blog:

Your concept of a finite God is one that gives me the most pause. You want to limit the understanding of all existence to a telestial sphere. The laws that govern terrestrial and celestial spheres are not known to us in any detail. God’s understanding of physical laws creates a situation where the whole plan is know from beginning to end. A libertarian view of the universe allows for multiple possibilities and hints of a lack of control. A compatabilist view says that all things are known and yet we still have our agency. I side with the compatabilists.

Posted by Taylor Payne

5/14/2005 03:03:00 PM  

The order of my last post's paragraphs got messed up with the cut and paste. I am not sure how that happened. It looked good when I saw it. I think you can rearrange them and make sense of it though. 

Posted by Taylor Payne

5/14/2005 03:06:00 PM  

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.
Richard P. Feynman

Posted by Taylor Payne

5/14/2005 03:12:00 PM  

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: I hope nobody takes what we're doing here too seriously. We're kicking ideas around--rearranging furniture to see how it works. If nothing said here is helpful, then forget about it. Hopefully people find some things of value.

Jeffery is way ahead of me in thinking about some issues. At face value I don't agree with everything he says, but if I thought and read about those particular issues more, I might--or I might not. I certainly don't feel threatened by him.

I would like to point out that nobody on this blog, that I am aware of, has challenged the role of Jesus Christ and the atonement, the mission of Joseph Smith and the restoration, or the role of current Church leadership as custodians of the priesthood keys (especially as they pertain to peformance of ordinances and official church discourse).

What we have done is discuss what things are literal, figurative, or unnecessary tradition, and how things might work together given some different assumptions.

We are open to other views and are willing to have guest-posts, as is evident from previous ones.

Greg, I hope that when you have your "true" reconcilliation is hammered out you will let us post it. 

Posted by Jared

5/14/2005 05:50:00 PM  

I'm just going to throw this out: King Benjamin's speech resulted in the people becoming born again, and thus becoming the sons and daughters of Christ, being spiritually begotten. Likewise, Abinidai taught that the "seed" of Christ were the righteous. Perhaps these concepts should inform discussions of both what it means to be a spirit son or daughter of God, and what continuation of seeds means.

What is the basis for the concept of a literal spirit birth? I did a quick search on LDS.org and didn't find much. Is the mechanism of our being spirit sons and daughters of God important? 

Posted by Jared

5/14/2005 07:31:00 PM  

Sorry, this is my first time to participate on a blog. I realize now this is not like a forum. You are welcome to your thoughts and ideas. I will bow out and let you enjoy your musings. I hope you find some sort of a reconciliation that makes you feel more comfortable.

I started my own blog of all kinds of stuff and can post away there.

Take care. 

Posted by Taylor Payne

5/14/2005 08:58:00 PM  

Thanks for stopping by, Taylor.

Re: spirit birth, Elder McConkie cites the 1909 Origin of Man statement where it says that we are literally spirit sons and daughters of God. Be that as it may, it leaves a host of mechanistic questions unanswered. I guess we won't know until we get there, but I don't favor strict parallels to mortal birth. 

Posted by Jared

5/14/2005 10:04:00 PM  

Jared - I don't have much time right now. I want to say more, but, I just wanted to answer your one thought: "What is the basis for the concept of a literal spirit birth? I did a quick search on LDS.org and didn't find much. Is the mechanism of our being spirit sons and daughters of God important?"

For myself and most "Mormons," the great importance is emotional. I don't know if you are a father or a husband. Even so, you may not share my feelings. But, to me (and to most others, as I can tell as I watch cultural feedback), not having Heavenly Father be as literal a father as I am to my child(ren) would be like the difference between a "platonic" marriage and a passionate one. To have the intimate family relationships, powered (in my view) by the the "spiritual nulcear energy" restored in the Kirtland Temple by Elijah, and made available to me and Peggy (my wife) in our own Temple Sealing be more like the vital, but still very different "adoption" relationships discussed by Abinadi and Mosiah than like what we feel it actually is, would be, for me to miss the very heart of the Gospel. In my view, I am born again, with Jesus as my adopted father, (he having borne my sins in a manner similar to the way my own mother bore me in birth) so that I can be clean enough to then enjoy the supernal family relationships enjoyed in the Celestial Kingdom, but begun here with my mortal family. I don't know the mechanism of my Spirit birth, and I know Jeff thinks that Joseph Smith didn't believe in it, but, those with keys now teach that it was at least as real, intimate, and personal as mortal birth is here, and most Saints accept it that way without question, and derive a great deal of "spiritual security" from it. As discussed here previously, and, on the 212 post symphony over at times and seasons, the primary Scriptural evidence is Jesus as the "Firstborn," rounded out by some verses in D&C 132. More later. Sorry I come accross "harshly" at times. I really do love you guys.


Posted by Greg

5/15/2005 09:11:00 AM  

We don't doubt your intent Greg or your love.

Just to clarrify, any kind of "spirit birth" that allows for degrees or gradualness would be fine by me. The only objection that I have is the all-or-nothing-ness of a literal spirit birth.

I too come across harsh at times so I try to be as forgiving as I can be (maybe I'm not as good at it as I sometimes think). I found the accusation that I consider the gospel to be a 'theory' as opposed to the 'fact' of evolution to be inaccurate at best. I haven't brought into question anything of very much importance, i.e. the existence of God, the power of the atonement, the restoration, the priesthood, etc. What I do claim is that there are something which we know, not believe, about evolution due to its overwhelming evidence. As to the gospel, I have taken it for granted that we know it is true, but surely we must admit that there are an awful lot of beliefs mixed in there, especially as to the details. A literal spirit birth is definitely a belief, not knowledge in my opinion.

I should also mention my posting the Adam as God post for it seemed that you had real issues with it. First of all, that was really the only time that I ever searched out "obsure and hidden quote" for anything. I was, in fact, a little nervious that I might 'scare the fish' a bit with the mention of such a disreputable doctrine but 1) curiosity got the best of me as to the possible relationship between the two and 2) I was trying to consider a broad range of versions of Adam.


Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/15/2005 05:33:00 PM  



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