Evolution and the Fall
FALL OF ADAM AND ALL THINGS. — Before the fall there was neither death nor procreation. Plants, animals, and man would have continued living forever unless a change of condition overtook them; and in their then immortal condition they could not have reproduced, each after its own kind. Death and procreation pertain to mortality, that is, to the status and type of existence attained by all forms of life subsequent to the fall.
Lehi said: "If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall."
Eve expressed the same truth in this language: "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient." Adam's fall brought temporal (natural) and spiritual death into the world. The temporal or natural death means that body and spirit separate, the spirit going to a world of waiting spirits to await the day of the resurrection, the body returning to the dust, the primal element, from which it was taken. The effects of this fall passed upon all created things.
Obviously, the whole doctrine of the fall, and all that pertains to it, is diametrically opposed to the evolutionary assumptions relative to the origin of species.
Dismissing the fall altogether is a notion that most members are simply not going to be willing to give up. But why is this? Is it the fall as we commonly understand it that cannot be rejected or the effects from and reasons for the fall which are more important? I suggest that it is the second, though saving the first would be icing on the cake. After all, Mc Conkie's strong adherence to the doctrine of the Fall stems from two things: 1) his desire to maintain the credibility of the scriptures and 2) it's association with the atonement which shall be dealt with shortly.
The doctrine of the fall is as follows and surely any attempt at reconciliation must account for such things:
- It was an introduction of physical death for those involved.
- It was an introduction of spiritual death for those involved.
- It was an introduction of the ability to physically procreate, again, for those involved.
- It was an introduction of knowledge in one form or another to those involved.
I have left these statements rather vague (i.e. "those involved") for good reason. First, and most obvious yet least persuasive, is that abiguity makes reconciliation easier. Second and more persuasively, we already saw that organisms have been dying and procreating for billions of years. We cannot say that the fall introduced death and procreation into the earth with the fall of two human beings about 6,000 years ago. There is no evidence for these notions and if one is to accept any form of evolution, even IDC, we simply must reject such ideas.
Thus, we cannot apply the ideas Mormons commonly maintain about the fall to the entire earth and its history. Whatever the fall was, it was not the introduction of death and procreation to the earth. Whatever the fall is meant to describe, it is to that and that alone that we should also apply the introduction of spiritual death and knowledge.
Well, what could it have been? Some of you already know my theory concerning this issue and I will describe it now since I can think of no other event which these ideas could refer to in Mormon doctrine. It makes little mention of Adam and Eve but such shall be taken up in one of Mc Conkie's later objections.
Before I go on the describe my theory, I should first address another category of "alternate falls." These other attempts at reconciliation invoke an isolated fall where death and procreation were happening outside of the garden of eden. I find such attempts unsatisfactory for a couple of reasons.
- We do not have a common ancestor which lived a mere 6,000 years ago which could have introduced any of these things to all of humanity.
- Such a limited account of the fall seems to destroy the point of the fall all together, since it is supposed to be a description of all of mankinds predicament.
- It seems very contrived and somewhat desperate. Though all attempts at reconciliation will seem that way to a certain degree, we should avoid excess.
- Such schemes, as we will see in reviews of Skousens' Earth in the Beginning and B.H. Robert's The Way, the Truth and the Life, usually posit someform of mass destruction of life around 6,000 years ago. This simply isn't true.
Some things to remember about the fall. Accounts of it tend to be closely intertwined with ceremony (the temple) or are rather legendary (genesis). Though I don't presume to actually do so right now in too much detail, we must separate, the ceremony from the story and the myths from the historical kernal. In the ceremonial setting, the point is not to learn about Adam and Eve. It is to learn more about yourself. The genesis is objective history, it is a story with a point. With this in mind I will continue.
What we know about life before the fall is:
- Adam was in God's presence. God walked and talked with Adam.
- Adam lived in a paradise, whereever this was, it was not "here."
- Adam had an immortal spiritual body of sorts. It is difficult to tell what this actually means.
- Adam was ignorant in that he had not gained some form of knowledge which seems to be an experience of good and evil. He could only progress spiritually by subjecting himself to spiritual and physical death.
- Satan was present was also present here in God's presence. Only after goes against the Father is he banished.
- Adam was childless. This seems to be related to the nature of his spiritual body.
After the fall the conditions were as follows:
- Adam was cast out of God's presence. We no longer had relatively easy access to God, but instead had to pray for "many days" for an angel to come.
- Adam was cast out of paradise into was is termed a lone and dreary world. In other words we was sent "here."
- Adam became mortal. He received a mortal body just like we have now.
- Adam could now have children. Again, just like we can with our bodies now.
- Adam began to gain knowedge and progress spiritually.
- Satan was also was cast out of the paradise. He then came to the lone and dreary world with Adam to tempt him.
If these events do not describe the Garden scene, what could they describe? An interesting question, especially when we consider that the name Adam means man or mankind (hence my reason for not mentioning eve, sorry ladies). If we replace Adam with mankind in all of these points we recognize these as describing something else, namely the pre-existence!
Now how this idea of the fall would work with our ideas of the premortal counsel would be a fun chore for another day, but we must admit that the parellels are startling. The story of our coming to earth and the story of the fall, seem to be telling the exact same story. Why not just consider them to be one and the same story, namely mankinds fall from heaven? This could be a valid way of reconciled the doctrine of the fall with evolution.
Summary: We have already addressed issues concerning the fall of the earth. We cannot however evade the issues of the fall of man, since salvation must include us being saved from something. Startling parellels between the accounts of the fall and our coming to earth may provide us with the fall we need while maintaining scientific cerdibility.