Paintings

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William (Bill) Dargan) graduated from UCLA in Zoology and is a retired Clinical Laboratory Scientist in Immunology.

4-What About Dinosaurs?

SOME COMMON BELIEFS IN THE CHURCH:

     (1) Dinosaurs were extraterrestrial animals whose bones come from the strata of other worlds which were used in the production of earth;

     (2) The dinosaurs lived on the Edenic earth with Adam, began to perish rapidly after the Fall, gave rise to the legends of dragons before the Flood, and none were taken aboard the Ark;

     (3) The dinosaurs really did live and become extinct millions of years before Adam, just like science believes.

OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE CHURCH: There is NO official position on where the dinosaurs came from.

POSSIBLE UNOFFICIAL POSITION? Dinosaurs were here long, long ago.

Morris Peterson, BYU Geology professor in the Sep. 1987 Ensign concludes: “From the fossil record, we learn that the dinosaurs were the dominant animals on earth between 225 to 67 million years ago…The existence of these animals is indisputable, for their remains have been found in rocks all over the earth. What eternal purpose they played in the creation and early history of the earth is unknown. The scriptures do not address the question, and it is not the realm of science to explore the issue of why they were here.” Maybe they were necessary to provide fossil fuel for our age. Maybe they had the same purpose as a blue whale or praying mantis – to give a lesser intelligence an appropriate and satisfying tabernacle.

Were Dinosaurs Extra-Terrestrials?

Joseph Smith is reported to have stated that “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” (Burton, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 207). From this, many have come to believe that the fossils of prehistoric animals (including prehistoric man) we have found in earth strata did not come from our planet. Many scientists in the Church think this highly improbable from at least two standpoints: (1) In order for the fossils not to melt, it would have required a “cold” creation for the earth, which appears scientifically impossible; and (2) It is unlikely that the strata could have been so perfectly preserved, physically or chronologically.

5 – How Was the Physical Body of Man Created?

SOME COMMON BELIEFS IN THE CHURCH:

     (1) Man was created as a lump of clay from the ground (spontaneous morphogenesis; aka De Novo or Special Creation) (this actually has very little place in LDS thought, but is popular among Fundamentalists);

     (2) Man is a product of guided evolution (this is prevalent among orthodox Christians; a few Apostles have lent credence to it);

     (3) Man is the physical child of Heavenly Parents (overwhelmingly the most common LDS belief).

Dust = Birth

Our view on the means of man’s creation has been most strongly influenced by a single verse of scripture. In Moses 6:59, we read: “…inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul…” Commenting on this passage, BYU professor John L. Sorensen writes: “Here is the key to understanding how God organized nature to produce the creatures he desired to inhabit the earth. The reproductive process – birth – is how dust becomes grass and trees and cattle and whales and all the rest of the living world” (The Scriptures and Creation, pp. 9-11).

Body Vs. Spirit

Some Apostles have personally entertained the possibility that the body of man was produced through guided evolution and that, when the genetically-engineered form was perfected in the express image of God, the spirit of Adam was placed in it. Apostle James E. Talmage may have been of this view. Speaking in the Tabernacle in Aug 1931, he said: “Notwithstanding the assumption that man(s tabernacle might be) the culmination of an evolutionary development from a lower order of beings, we know that the body of man today is in the very form and fashion of his spirit and is also in the image of God’s own body…As to how were formed the bodies of the first human beings to take tabernacles, the revealed word gives no details…After the body of the first man had been made ready through the direct operation of the creative power, the spirit of man entered that body” (Juvenile Instructor, JAN 1966, pp. 9-11,15).

OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE CHURCH: There is NO official position on how man’s body was created.

“Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin…(or) whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God” (First Presidency of Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era, APR 1910, 13:570).

Whatever the Answer…’God is at the Helm!’

David O. McKay said: “…evolution’s beautiful theory of the creation of the world offers many perplexing problems to the inquiring mind…(But even) Darwin understood that belief in evolution is a matter separate and distinct from that of religious commitment…no youth should be (given the thought that all may be chance)…God is at the helm. I see no good reason why the views given in this volume (Darwin’s Origin of Species) should shock the religious feelings of anyone…it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that he created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that he required a fresh act of creation (for each species)…To my mind, it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual.

“When I view all beings (in this light)…they seem to me to be ennobled…And, as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection…Thus, from (evolution)…the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving; namely, (man)…directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one…(and) from so simple (a) beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved” (BYU Speech, 10 OCT 1952).


“On the subject of organic evolution, the Church has officially taken no position” (First Presidency of David O. McKay, FEB 1957). “…(the) statements published in…(NOV 1909 [see below])…express the position of the Church upon the subject of the origin of man’…The authorities of the Church rely upon the revelation of the Lord for information about the creation of man…” (Personal Correspondence of Pres. McKay to Bro. Robert Stones of Provo, UT, 21 APR 1960).

POSSIBLE UNOFFICIAL POSITION? Man is the child of Celestial Parentage (most of our prophets have believed this).

Joseph F. Smith: Adam was Born of Woman’

“…Man was born of woman; Christ the Savior was born of woman; and God the Father was born of woman. Adam, our earthly parent, was also born of woman into this world, the same as Jesus and you and I…” (Pres. Joseph F. Smith, Deseret News, Section 3, p. 7, 27 DEC 1913).

Joseph Smith: God was the Father of Our Bodies’

“Joseph Smith is reported…to have taught that God was the great head of human procreation – was really and truly the Father of both our spirits and our (physical) bodies'” (Andrus, Hyrum, God, Man, and the Universe, pp. 351-354).

By this reasoning, while Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh (meaning mortality), Adam and Eve would be begotten children of the Father and his Eternal Companion in immortality. Interestingly, Adam is called “the son of God” in Luke 3:38 & Mos. 6:22. This could also shed light on Paul’s allusion to Christ as “the second Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45-47.

Brigham Young: We are Flesh of God’s Flesh’

Brigham Young stated: “Mankind are here because they are offspring of parents (Adam and Eve) who were first brought here from another planet, and power was given them to propagate their species, and they (were) commanded to multiply and replenish the earth…(God) created man as we create our children; for there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that (was), or that ever will be…We are flesh of (God’s) flesh, (and) bone of his bone” (Journal of Discourses 11:122; 9:283, OCT 1859).

1909 Landmark: Man is the Direct Lineal Offspring of Deity’

In 1909, the First Presidency of Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund issued a landmark statement on the origin of man, which has remained the definitive statement on the subject to this very day: “Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our Heavenly Father. True it is that the body of man enters upon its career as a tiny germ or embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is, and the child, after being born, develops into a man. There is nothing in this, however, to indicate that the original man, the first of our race, began life as anything less than a man, or less than the human germ or embryo that becomes a man…God, himself, is an exalted man…(and the Church) proclaims man to be the direct lineal offspring of Deity…the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes…” (Improvement Era, NOV 1909, 13:75-81).

They do not elucidate the expression, “direct lineal offspring of Deity,” but it is clear what they personally believed from a statement they approved the following year for a Church manual which stated: man is, in the most literal sense, a child of God. This is not only true of the spirit of man, but of his body also…The Father has a body of flesh and bones…Then what is more natural than to conclude that the offspring of such (a Being) would have bodies of flesh and bones?” (Course of Study for Priests in the Aaronic Priesthood, 1910, p. 35).

The One Great Mark Against Guided Evolution of Man

While we are welcome to think what we like, many in the Church favor this reasoning: Guided evolution may be scientifically plausible and reasonable for animals, but there is at least one great mark against it where man is concerned: Why should a perfect Man and a perfect Woman need to genetically engineer their own children from animal life? Many members of the Church believe that God used evolution to produce the trillions of types of bodies necessary for the animal intelligences, but that when he brought forth his own children in his own image, nothing but divine conception and birth would have been needful.

6 – Were There Men Before Adam?

SOME COMMON BELIEFS IN THE CHURCH:

     (1) No; the scriptures clearly state that Adam was “the first man” (Moses 3:7);

     (2) Yes, there were pre-Adamites, but none were still around when Adam was brought to the earth. Whatever purpose they served in God’s plan is unknown.

A Million Years of Men?

Science asserts that true men go back at least one million years and possibly more. The Scriptures say that Adam left the Garden 6,000 years ago. While the Book of Mormon may cast some doubt on the generally accepted Ussher chronology (Helaman 8:18), we still cannot scripturally account for Adam being tens or hundreds of thousands of years back. So what are these fossils which science has found, and can we reconcile the two views?

Elder James E. Talmage stated that true science and true religion will never conflict; it is just the limitations in our knowledge of each that cause us temporary frustrations: “The Creator has made a record in the rocks for man to decipher; but he has also spoken directly regarding the main stages of progress by which the earth has been brought to be what it is. The accounts cannot be fundamentally opposed; one cannot contradict the other; though man’s interpretation of either may be at fault” (Juvenile Instructor, DEC 1965, pp. 474-477).

Were all the man-like beings before Adam just animals? If so, some of them seem to have been amazingly intelligent and quite proficient at behaving like men. Yet, although their abilities seem to exceed those of the most advanced apes, there is little question that they were not highly civilized socially or culturally. There is no evidence whatsoever that they had even a rudimentary knowledge of even the most basic Gospel principles. What, then, are we to make of them?

The Theory of the Spirits Who Plea-Bargained

What possible purpose could there be for pre-Adamites, if they did not have the Gospel? Certain scriptures (notably D&C 45:54 & 76:72) have been thought by some students to refer, at least in part, to a large group of pre-mortal spirits who, perhaps fearing – after much consideration and counseling – that they weren’t going to do so well on their earth-exam if presented with the full Gospel, “plea-bargained,” in effect, that, if they could live and die without being exposed to either celestial or civilized law – either on earth or in the post-mortal spirit world – they could receive an inheritance in a portion of the Terrestrial Kingdom (coming forth in the “Afternoon of the First Resurrection”) that would be “tolerable” for them (of course they would have to be able to abide Terrestrial laws and standards).


Under this plan, they could not achieve Celestial Glory, but neither would they be consigned to the Telestial Kingdom. Joseph Smith may have been referring to them when he spoke of “the heathen of ages that never had hope” (Times & Seasons, 4:82-83, Feb 1843). Prof. Hyrum Andrus has spoken of this subject, saying: “Little has been revealed concerning the program of salvation which is given to those who die and are redeemed without celestial law…They are destined to come forth in the first resurrection…But in general their place in eternity will be the terrestrial kingdom of glory…Presumably they must be taught (in the spirit world) concerning Christ and the requirements of terrestrial salvation” (Principles of Perfection, p. 496).

A sheltered earth life, precluding exposure to civilized law, would seem to require a rather primitive existence. We know of such cultures in recorded history, but if this pre-mortal group was large enough, it might have required more area and time than could be found in the past 6,000 years. Before Gospel knowledge was delivered to the world through Adam would perhaps be the ideal time for large numbers of such individuals to live their lives.

Although the theory of “plea-bargainers” poses some doctrinal questions that have no satisfactory answers at this point, it seems to some students of the scriptures to be fairly sound. If true, it would provide reasonable rationale for believing that actual pre-Adamic men (and not just advanced anthropoid apes that were uncomfortably similar to humans) lived on this earth before recorded history.    

An Alternate View of Replenishing the Earth’

Some Apostles have even believed in full Gospel dispensations before Adam. Realizing that creations of inhabited worlds abound (past, present, and future), with each such planet requiring a new beginning, a clean slate, a new Adam and Eve from the courts on high; and knowing that the Plan of Salvation has been implemented infinite times before on other worlds which have gone on to join the constellation of celestial worlds at the center of the universe (or galaxy, as one theory goes) (Moses 1:33-35), proponents of this view believe that this repetition can also be accomplished on the same planet. They hold to a literal view of the commandment to Adam to “replenish” the earth; that is, to “fill it up again.”

Orson Hyde stated: The world was peopled before the days of Adam, as much so as it was before the days of Noah. It was said that Noah became the father of a new world, but it was the same old world still, and will continue to be (in the future), though it may pass through many changes’ (Journal of Discourses, 2:75-87, OCT 1854). There is some apocryphal concordance with Elder Hyde’s view; a number of Hebrew legends say similar things. While around 150 7,000-year probations could fit into the time span scientists believe true men have been around, there could be many doctrinal difficulties with such a theory. LDS authorities who have been open to the possibility of pre-Adamic men still hold firm (and rightly) that Adam and Eve were the only humans on earth at the time of the Fall and the only original common ancestors of modern man.

OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE CHURCH: There is NO official position on the matter of pre-Adamites.

The 1930 Heber J. Grant “Creationism Convocation”

In 1930, in response to numerous queries from the membership as to the Church’s position on evolution and pre-Adamites, and sparked by philosophical disagreement between Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith (anti-evolution) and President of the Seventy B.H. Roberts (pro-evolution), the First Presidency under Heber J. Grant and the Twelve met in council to review all extant revelations, scientific assertions, and possible scenarios regarding the origin of man, in the hope of issuing an official statement. Apostle James E. Talmage recorded the minutes and decisions of the several meetings.

“Neither Side Has Been Accepted”

After some debate, examining interpretational views of the so-called scientific evidence, and endeavoring to prayerfully ascertain the Lord’s mind and will in the matter, the First Presidency issued the following statement :

The statement made by Elder Smith that the existence of pre-Adamites is not a doctrine of the Church is true. It is just as true that the statement: There were not pre-Adamites upon the earth,’ is not a doctrine of the Church. Neither side of the controversy has been accepted as a doctrine at all” (Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, Charles W. Nibley; from the Journal of James E. Talmage).

Recording his impressions of the decision, Elder Talmage wrote: “As to whether pre-Adamite races existed upon the earth, there has been much discussion among some of our people of late. The decision reached by the First Presidency and announced to this morning’s assembly, was in answer to a specific question that obviously the doctrine of the existence of races of human beings upon the earth prior to the Fall of Adam was not a doctrine of the Church; and, further, that the conception embodied in the belief of many to the effect that there were no such pre-Adamite races, and that there was no death upon the earth prior to Adam’s Fall is likewise declared to be no doctrine of the Church. I think the decision of the First Presidency is a wise one in the premises. This (subject, whether or not there were any true pre-Adamic men) is one of the many things upon which we cannot preach with assurance, and dogmatic assertions on either side are likely to do harm rather than good” (Personal Journal, 29:42, 7 APR 1930).

Reiterating to the Church on 5 APR 1931 the 1909 First Presidency statement that man is the direct lineal offspring of Deity,’ the Heber J. Grant Presidency concluded: “Upon one thing we should all be able to agree; namely, that…’Adam is the primal parent of our race’.”

Statements from Leaders Clarified as “Personal Opinions”

B.H. Roberts and James E. Talmage both passed away in 1933. Even after the renderings of the First Presidency, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith still felt strongly that pre-Adamites were incompatible with the scriptures and continued to voice his opinions to that effect. On 28 Jun 1954, he presented his views to the Seminaries and Institutes Conference at BYU. Exactly nine days later, Pres. J. Reuben Clark, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, before the same audience, addressed the issue: “When are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?” He made it clear that sometimes Apostles may try to resolve unsettled issues without making it clear that theirs is a private opinion.


In mid-1954, Joseph Fielding Smith published Man: His Origin and Destiny, in which he wrote: There were no peoples of any sort upon the earth before Adam. The doctrines of “pre-Adamites” is not a doctrine of the Church and is not advocated or countenanced in the Church” (1954). When this book was published, Pres. David O. McKay wrote in response to the many queries as to whether the book represented the Church’s official position: “On the subject of organic evolution, the Church has officially taken no position. (The book) expresses the views of the author, for which he assumes full responsibility. The book was not published, approved, or authorized by the Church, nor did the author intend that it be” (Personal Correspondence, APR 1960; printed in Clark’s Messages of the First Presidency). When Joseph Fielding Smith, one of the greatest Gospel scholars in this dispensation, became President of the Church in 1970, he never more sermonized or editorialized on the Creation issues.

Pres. Harold B. Lee included an anti-pre-Adamite remark in an Ensign First Presidency Message (Dec 1972), but nothing happened. However, it was different when Pres. Marion G. Romney did the same thing in an August, 1979 address, stating There were no pre-Adamic men in the line of Adam. The Lord said that Adam was the first man, the first mortal on earth, and that there was no death in the world before Adam. Thus there were no prehistoric men. If, however, there are some things in the strata of the earth indicating there were men before Adam, they were not the ancestors of Adam’ (Ensign, Sep 1980). Pres. Romney was contacted by some members who wanted to know if his views were official. He responded: “(My) statements (were) made strictly and only as my personal opinion” (Personal Correspondence to Mr. John Davidson of Los Gatos, CA, 8 OCT 1980).

POSSIBLE UNOFFICIAL POSITION? The Church has NO unofficial position on the existence of pre-Adamites. It is completely up in the air. That on which all can agree is that “Adam is the primal parent of our race.”

One Opinion – A Possible Answer?

Here is one possible – albeit admittedly speculative – way that the existence of pre-Adamic men and death before the Fall – IF those things were in God’s economy – might be reconciled with Moses 3:7, which states:

And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also…”

If we consider earth history before Eden to be a PREPARATORY period, then we might not be obliged to view the world as a final, completed product or requisite testing ground. Death of prehistoric life (plants and animals) might have been required to set the stage for man.

If, in God’s wisdom, there were any humans participating in a program without exposure to law during this preparatory period, they would have to be removed from the earth before its immortalization and the events of Eden. This could have been accomplished by a world-wide catastrophe (extinction-level event), possibly around 10,000 B.C. that wiped out all humans and caused the extinction of most prehistoric animals, leaving mainly modern forms of flora and fauna for Adam and Eve to encounter.

The Presence of the Godhead on earth at the time they planted the Garden would have conferred a condition of immortality upon all living things (very similar to what it will be like when Jesus returns), establishing a Paradisiacal earth, as prelude to the First Dispensation of a Fulness of the Gospel.

Adam could still be designated by the Lord as “the first flesh” (first to become mortal) and “the first man also,” IF he was the first man, AFTER the immortalization and dedication of the earth as a testing ground, to come forth – through the Fall – into telestial conditions, for the purpose of proving and trying the latest generation of divine progeny under – for the first time on this world – the FULL program of the Gospel.

Conclusions

Dogmatizing Can Be Harmful

If we can take away one moral from this study, it should be that we determine to refrain from dogmatism on any of these questions. The Holy Ghost will neither ratify error nor take sides when the final answers have been divinely held in abeyance. We may feel that the Scriptures speak clearly to us, or like to drop a name and quote a leader who believed like us (prophets and apostles, as we have seen, can have their personal opinions, too), but to assert that the we are expressing the official view of the Church is to risk stepping on toes, hurting feelings, and even driving investigators or some members (babes in Christ without the solid footing of a firm testimony) from the Gospel, because the Spirit will not provide them a sure witness of what we have said.

Commentator Duane Jeffrey astutely notes: There can be no denying the fact that the intense polemics of the theology-biology debate has polarized people into opposite camps detrimental to the cause of both. Is it not time to recognize that each camp has truth and try to take the best from both? Teachers in the Church cannot be honest if they present only one point of view as the position of the Church. Whoso among them picks just one position from among the many articulated on these matters by Church leaders becomes guilty of teaching a part-truth and witnesses immediately that he “is not moved upon by the Holy Ghost.” And will not students who (understand the situation and yet) permit such teaching without clarifying the matter be equally guilty of perpetuating part-truths?’ (Dialogue, Winter 1973, pp. 68-69).

We are Free to Believe What We Want

The mysteries of creation can make our brothers and sisters sensitive and uneasy, if they have preconceived notions about them. We need to emphasize that we can believe whatever we want to about these questions – whatever we are comfortable with – and still be “right.” But to teach others that our ideas are absolutes puts them on a foundation of sand that can cause doubts and offence (see 1 Corinthians 8:8-13; 9:22; 10:32). Let us make perfectly clear from the outset that the official position of the Church on these issues of Creation is that there is NO official position of the Church!

What Can We Preach with Certainty?

On the other hand, when the Lord has revealed a matter, we should not apologize for it or equivocate it. What, then, can we preach with certainty? The 1909 First Presidency’s statement on man’s origin is still the benchmark.


In addition, these points are official Church doctrine:

1)Adam and Eve were real historical figures;

2)Adam and Eve were the primal and only parents of our modern race;

3)The spirits of Adam and Eve were not descended or evolved from lower life, but were spirit children of God the Father sent from the pre-mortal world of spirits;

4)The physical bodies of Adam and Eve were not primitive in appearance, but were in the image of God (the Universal Father and the Universal Mother);

5)Eden was a real place, not a myth;

6)Immortality existed on the earth at the time of Eden;

7)The Fall of Man occurred in Eden, bringing mortality and spiritual death upon the earth; and,

8)The Gospel plan provided for the Savior, Jesus Christ, to redeem, through his infinite and eternal Atonement, as many children of God as possible from the effects of the Fall, by bringing to pass the resurrection (unconditionally) and the possibility of returning to the Presence of the Father (conditionally, through our faithful obedience to the principles and ordinances of the Gospel), that we might dwell forever with our families in immortal glory, working to bring to pass God’s purposes forever.

“We are Open to Truth of Every Kind”

John Taylor said: Our religion embraces every principle of truth and intelligence pertaining to us as moral, intellectual, mortal and immortal beings, pertaining to this world and the world that is to come. We are open to truth of every kind, no matter whence it comes, where it originates, or who believes in it. A man in search of truth has no peculiar system to sustain, no peculiar dogma to defend or theory to uphold. He embraces all truth, and that truth, like the sun in the firmament, shines forth and spreads its effulgent rays over all creation, and if men will divest themselves of bias and prejudice, and prayerfully and conscientiously search after truth, they will find it wherever they turn their attention’ (Journal of Discourses, 16:369-370, 1874).