Transplanting, Evolving and Sealing

In his chapter which might as well have been titled "Contra Evolution" Joseph Fielding Smith uses the doctrine of transplantation as the 'true' mechanism of creation used by the Lord. "The Lord has given us the information regarding his creations, and how he has made many earths, for there never was a beginning, never was a time when man did not exist somewhere in the universe, and when the time came for this earth to be peopled, the Lord, our God, transplanted upon it from some other earth, the life which is found here." Let's talk a little bit about this doctrine of transplantation.
Hyrum Andrus in his "Doctrinal Commentary of the Pearl of Great Price" dedicates a couple of pages to it so lets follow his lead. His primary defense of the doctrine comes from quoting authorities, namely JFS2 (as we have just quoted) and Brigham Young. This is interesting because while JFS2 was certainly the most vocal authority about the doctrine, BY seems to have been the originator, he being the first person to extent the principle of transplantation beyong Adam. Those who are relatively familiar with the doctrinal developments of the 19th century probably all think the same thing at this point: how does this relate to his other doctrinal 'renovations'? I don't say this as an excuse to bring in, as Greg called them, the philosophies of 19th century men mingled with scripture. I do it to show what the underpinnings of the doctrine are.
Shall I say that the seeds of vegetables were planted here by the Characters that framed and built this world—that the seeds of every plant composing the vegetable kingdom were brought from another world? This would be news to many of you. Who brought them here? It matters little to us whether it was John, James, William, Adam, or Bartholomew who brought them; but it was some Being who had power to frame this earth with its seas, valleys, mountains, and rivers and cause it to teem with vegetable and animal life.
Here let me state to all philosophers of every class upon the earth, When you tell me that father Adam was made as we make adobies from the earth, you tell me what I deem an idle tale. When you tell me that the beasts of the field were produced in that manner, you are speaking idle words devoid of meaning. There is no such thing in all the eternities where the Gods dwell. Mankind are here because they are offspring of parents who were first brought here from another planet, and power was given them to propagate their species, and they are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. - JD 7: 285-6

Thus we can see the two principle doctrines on which transplantation is based. The first is Joseph's doctrine that there is no such thing as a son without a father. "Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Wherever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way."

The second is the idea that Adam came from another world. This has taken on a number of forms: 1) Adam was a literal son of God, He obviously coming from a different sphere or planet. 2) Adam was God who came from another planet. 3) Adam was some unnamed person's son, this person dwelling on another planet, since Adam was the first one on this one. Either way we know that Adam was created and THEN introduced into the garden and that this world was patterned after a world were he used to live.

Let's deal with the first doctrine, the impossibility of men being created without a father. This is exactly what evolution says. There are no special creations out of nothing. Every creature has parents, from which it differs very slightly but which is still close enough to be of the same "kind". No animals never gives birth to anything which is not of the same kind, but given enough time new kinds can be created.

What about the spontaneous generation of life? Isn't this exactly what Joseph is preaching against? Kind of, but not really. Obviously beavers aren't going to be popping out of nowhere, but what about proteins, RNA or viruses? What is life and when/how did it start? Well, according to evolution the line gets blurry, and quite frankily we don't know too much about it. Stuart Kauffman in his book "Investigations" says that life is "a self-reproducing system able to perform at least one thermodynamic work cycle."

He then goes on to unpack this definition for the majority of the book. Now I don't want to get too technical, and his book is quite technical indeed for a popular science book, but Kauffman goes on to give a "Just-So Story" for how life probably came about. He says that due to the non-ergodicity of the universe, auto-catalyitic systems were a near inevitability on this planet given its environment. The line between an auto-catayltic system and a "self-reproducing system able to perform at least one thermodynamic work cycle" is blurry at best and could easily have been over come through purely natural means. Thus, there was no definite place were a life-form was created from a non-life-form. This fits quite well with what Joseph taught.

Now as to Adam, it isn't entirely clear which of the three options listed above is the one Joseph endorsed. It was definitely the first one for most of his life, but Brigham claimed that it eventually became the second one. I don't think he even considered the third. He have already discussed a number of viable options as to what we can believe about Adam. So I won't go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say that Evolution doesn't require that Adam be born of man.

Now what happens when we combine these two doctrines? Not much actually. While we clearly understand Adam to have created the earth and then stayed there, nowhere do we hear Eloheim say "Jehovah, Michael, take sheep with you to earth." Instead it is "go down and create animals." The transplantation doctrine is a forced conclusion only when we maintain the immutability of species, an idea that wasn't overthrown until Darwin's Origin of Species. With this new view of life and 'kinds' we are no longer forced to accept the transplantation of numerous 'kinds' to give us the wide variety of life we now observe.

The doctrine of transplantation was never a revelation. It was instead seen as a forced consequence and corollary of those other two doctrines. Now that such a conclusion in no longer forced (indeed there is much evidence against it) we should feel no need to accept such a doctrine as binding. Every animal did have a progenitor. Adam could have been transplanted somehow. This is all in perfect harmony with evolution.

Now we come to the point, for this is where Elder Packer takes issue:
An understanding of the sealing authority with its binding of the generations into eternal families cannot admit to ancestral blood lines to beasts.
Let me repeat: An understanding of the sealing authority with its binding of the generations into eternal families cannot admit to ancestral blood lines to beasts. That should be reason enough for any endowed and sealed Latter-day Saint!

This, in my opinion, is a rather desperate argument despite the apparent logic used. For one, we don't actually believe that everybody will be sealed. Only those who qualify for the celestial kingdom, which will hardly be a majority, will have the "Holy Spirit of Promise" seal their sealing. Thus, not only are animals excluded, but most humans are as well.

Secondly, I should ask who am I sealed to? I am sealed to my family. Am I sealed to my ancestors who lived 1,000 years ago? Yes, but very indirectly. What about those who lived 5,000 years ago? Even more indirectly. And those who lived 5,000,000 years ago? Who cares! Even if I am, they won't have anything to do with me. Nobody here will be sealed in any significant way to a Cro-magnon.

If the gradualness of evolution doesn't match with how clear cut we imagine our sealings to be, it is our idea of sealings which is in trouble not evolution. If only those who are worthy will be sealed, then THERE is some gradualness which simply must be dealt with. And if that gradualness can be accommodated in the sealing tree, then I see no problem with evolution either. Just as there are some people who will go the the telestial kingdom and will be deprived of a 'sealing', so there are hominids who will not be worthy of a sealing either. Where the cut-off line in either one is, I don't presume to know, nor do I particularly care.

Summary: The doctrine of transplantation was a pre-darwinian forced conclusion based on two doctrines which are themselves compatible with evolution. While the gradualness and the mutability of species inherent in evolution seems to pose a problem for temple sealings, such a reading is based on our ignorance of the sealing process.


If the law of adoption enabled people to be sealed to someone other than their biological parent, why couldn't the same apply to Adam and Eve?

My perception is that we really don't know much about the purposes and bounds of sealing. For now, all we pretty much know is that it is important for the perpetuation of family relationships in the eternities, and so we do it for the same reason that Adam offered sacrifice.

My understanding is that a fair number of the sealings will be "rearranged" in the next life anyway, so I don't see why this should be a big issue. 

Posted by Jared

5/24/2005 02:32:00 PM  


Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/24/2005 02:48:00 PM  

Suffice it to say that Evolution doesn't require that Adam be born of man. 

Jeffrey, walk me through this. It seems to me the kind of evidence that's in Jared's latest post does imply that human bodies descended from common ancestors with other primates. Are you saying Adam arrived on the scene from elsewhere and just happened to be just like homo sapiens, and could just reproductively plug right in to the ongoing chain of descent?

While we clearly understand Adam to have created the earth and then stayed there, nowhere do we hear Eloheim say "Jehovah, Michael, take sheep with you to earth." Instead it is "go down and create animals."

With plants, the transplantation does seem more explicit: they are told to plant seeds in the earth.

If only those who are worthy will be sealed, then THERE is some gradualness which simply must be dealt with. And if that gradualness can be accommodated in the sealing tree, then I see no problem with evolution either.

I don't understand what you're saying about gradualness of sealings here. I think the common understanding is that sealing is a binary proposition. If I and my grandfather are worthy, but my father is not, then the sealing skips to my grandfather and my father is simply left out of the chain, unsealed from above or below. It's not that my father's unworthiness somehow dilutes the chain of sealing. 

Posted by Christian Y. Cardall

5/25/2005 10:40:00 AM  

That's certainly my view Christian.

5/25/2005 11:57:00 AM  

Christian, we must keep in mind the suitable definitions of Adam that we are working with.

1) Adam as the first man. This is rejected, completely and totally. we are not all complete descendants of Adam. There is far more hominid in us than there is Adam.

2) Adam as symbolic myth. Obviously this Adam wasn't born of man.

3) Adam as first prophet. He could have been born of God or some other person from another planet if we want. This is what we believe of Jesus right? This opition actually allows for a lot of elbow room, some of which involves Adam coming from 'elsewhere.'

4) Adam as God. Obviously he comes from a different planet.

Now where the finagling comes in is the fall. If we are to suggest that Adam was an alien of sorts, then if seems we simply must believe that either God directed evolution very carefully (I'm not terribly comfortable with this) or that Adam's fall made him take on human nature as it already existed on this earth.

I guess it really comes down to how comfortable we are with simply saying that those guys were wrong when they said that Adam was born of God or came from another planet. But remember, it strongly implies this in the temple.

With the plants you are right, it does give a big opening for transplantation. Of course there is stll plenty of room to suggest that these seeds came from earth itself.

With regards to the sealing, what I'm saying is that there is a gradual spectrum of righteousness which will complicate our ideas of who is sealed and who isn't. There will have to be some kind of line drawn between who is celestial and who isn't. If lines like this must be drawn, then they can also be drawn in our lineages which go back to hominids which simply were not worthy of exaltation due to their ignorance.

This is similar to our seeking for the prime mammal. Each mammal has a mammal mother, therefore mammals have always existed on this earth. Wrong. There is a point when we can say here we have mammals whereas there we did not. The same can be said of sealings as well. These will be sealed and these will not be. The lines of who will and who will not be are drawn in a similar fashion as the lines which will separate the celestial and sealed people from the terrestrial and unsealed people. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/25/2005 12:03:00 PM  

Just to clarify a bit more, in order for an individual to be sealed, the gospel will have do be taught to them by somebody, somebody who can also do the sealing. The laws of adoption allows plenty of room for all of this. I will have to post on this in the future, though I will probably limit this to my other post. Hominids were never taught the gospel and therefore will not be sealed. Whoever were the first hominid to be worthy of being sealed must have had this taught to them be somebody (this includes receiving the priesthood). They will be adopted to them according to the law of adoption. Personally, I do think that all sealing lines will go back to Adam the first prophet with the priesthood. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/25/2005 12:08:00 PM  

"Hominids were never taught the gospel and therefore will not be sealed. "

That is what missionary work for the ones that have passed the veil is for. If the word and truth is eternal, then shouldn't the doctrine be also? (this including sealing) 

Posted by Martin

5/25/2005 05:53:00 PM  

Once we start talking about work for the dead the doctrine becomes so vague that its hard to say anything about what will happen to who with much confidence. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/26/2005 09:40:00 AM  

If Jesus was the Only Begotten of Elohim in the flesh, then Elohim could not also be Adam's biological father according to the flesh. Hence Adam and Eve's biological parents (parents of their physical bodies) must have been temporary transplants from another planet, or Adam and Eve were birthed elsewhere and brought here.

I also find it interesting that the Proclamation on the Family, is the first official church teaching that we have a Heavenly Mother, by its use of the phrase "heavenly parents." Hence, we do now "officially" believe in a "Mrs. God" or "Heavenly Mother"

Posted by anon

8/17/2005 09:21:00 PM  



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