|This is one of a series of web pages I created between 2001and 2006. I was angry and frustrated at the LDS Church. Since then I have moved on and calmed down. So please remember, if you read these pages, that they reflect my past and not my present feelings. Thanks for your understanding! - Chris Tolworthy|
by Chris Tolworthy
The Mormon church teaches that Adam was the first man, that there was no death in the world before Adam, and that Adam lived 4,000 BC. Many Mormons are well educated and know that this cannot be true. Yet they still teach it. It appears to be an example of what George Orwell called "DoubleThink" - the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs at the same time.
This indicates that educated Mormons teach things that they know to be false.
It also indicates that Mormon scripture is unreliable.
Adam is central to Mormon teaching: his story is repeated in the Old Testament, the Pearl of Great Price, the temple, and is referred to in numerous other scriptures, the Articles of Faith, and lesson manuals.
The center of Mormon teaching and worship is the temple. Most of the time in the temple is spent at a ceremony that shows Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, then being expelled from the garden, and thus needing a savior. Each person in the temple takes on the role of Adam or Eve.
As many church leaders have stated, if there is no Fall of Adam then there is no need for a Redeemer - no need for Christ. This is spelled out in many places. For example, this is from 2 Nephi chapter 2. Also note the famous Mormon scripture "Adam fell that men might be."
Section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants is a series of questions and answers. The prophet asks questions about the Book of Revelation, and God answers. Here are the key verses. The whole thing can be seen, scanned from the scriptures, at the end of this essay.
6 Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
7 Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?
A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.
10 Q. What time are the things spoken of in this chapter to be accomplished?
A. They are to be accomplished in the sixth thousand years, or the opening of the sixth seal.
12 Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.
13 Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation?
A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ.
This belief was well established even in Joseph Smith's day - most Bibles had the dates printed in them, which placed Adam at 4,000 BC. The seven thousand years and seven days connection comes from the apocryphal book of Enoch, and was common knowledge in Joseph's day.
The above scan is from a double page spread in the New Testament institute manual, "The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles" (Religion 211-212). This page is directly based upon section 77, making clear that these are literal calendar years and this deals with real history. The complete spread is reproduced at the end of this essay.
Until recently this teaching was well known in the church, hence the famous LDS musical, "Saturday's Warrior," perhaps the most popular LDS musical ever. Its title referred to the doctrine that we are living in the Saturday night of the earth's seven thousand year week, and Sunday (the Millennium) is about to begin. It was written back in the good old days, when the church had clear, literalist beliefs, when correlation did not stifle new musicals, and when we all expected the Second Coming to occur before the year 2000.
This chart has been removed from recent editions of the manual. You can see the current manuals on line here: http://www.ldsces.org/Institute%20Manuals.asp The map section of the New Testament manual is not available on line, but the contents are shown and they do not include the page on the seven seals. I have included a scan of the web site at the end of this essay. The "seven seals" chart used to be after the New Testament Chronology page.
The above scan is from the first LDS edition of the Bible, in 1979. The LDS Bible includes a Bible Dictionary, and the entry for Chronology contains a table of Biblical dates.
The above scan is from a more recent edition of the LDS Bible. (This was a from a quadruple combination, bought around 2004, though it still contains the 1979 copyright date.) Note that some of the dates have been removed, but the key date of 4000 BC for Adam has been retained.
The above is from the "Old Testament Chronology Chart" from the Old Testament Institute Manual, Religion 301, the1981 printing. The dates were still there on the on line version (see scan at bottom of this page).
The historical dates are central to the early stories. Genesis gives ages and timespans for numerous important events. D&C 77 shows how God has arranged world history to parallel the events of creation. So the time spans matter. If they are not literal, why should the events be considered literal? A literal fall is linked to a literal redemption. Everything is interlinked.
Even if we can isolate this detail, if one part is wrong, why not the rest? When we admit that one important teaching is wrong, how do we know if any of the others are right?
The date 4,000 BC is implied by scripture, and plainly stated in LDS Bibles and LDS manuals and charts. So anyone who gives a blanket approval to those sources is in effect teaching that date.
In the Mormon church, everyone takes turns to be a teacher. And everyone gives talks. And everyone gives a testimony in the testimony meeting. So all Mormons, sooner or later, publicly state that the scriptures are true and that the lesson manuals are reliable. Most people will end up teaching an Old Testament course at some time or another, and many of the will refer directly to the 4,000 BC teaching. So every Mormon, either directly or indirectly, teaches that Adam lived 4,000 BC.
If Adam lived 4,000 BC then God must be a God of lies, since he filled the world with evidence that suggests the opposite. Here is some of that evidence:
The earliest cities were being built more than two thousand years before Adam - in Çatal Hüyük and elsewhere. Humans were farming and living in villages for thousands of years before that. The evidence can be traced back to the end of the last ice age. And they were making tools and painting on walls for hundreds of thousand of years before that.
Reliable dating methods:
These dates are confirmed by comparing with tree rings, radiocarbon dating, and other independent methods. If we want to challenge them then you have to believe that all these methods agree by coincidence, and that all scientists are fools, or have a secret agenda.
The testimony of other Mormons:
The vast majority of educated Christians, those who have examined the evidence, believe that there were humans before 4000 BC. Even Brigham Young University teaches that! To believe that Adam was the first man in 4000 BC, you have to believe that most Christians, and most educated Mormons, including apostles such as James E. Talmage, were deluded.
An unbroken record:
Why did God make us biologically so similar to other primates if we have nothing in common with them? Why are archaeologists finding more and more skeletons of early humans, making an unbroken line with earlier hominids? We no longer need a so-called missing link, because numerous examples of genus australopithecines have been found, which led to homo erectus and thence to homo sapien. There is increasing evidence for cranial expansion, migration and increased tool use as homo sapiens evolved between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago. There was another period of rapid development between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago, as people began to develop more complex family groups, burying their dead, and so on. Then we have the ice age, then the first farmers, then the first cities, and then the technology of today. The missing links are no longer missing. Did God provide this unbroken line of evidence in order to trick us?
Confusion among believers:
The evidence for human origins is overwhelming and leads scientists to agree on everything except the details. Meanwhile, believers cannot decide whether Adam was 4,000 BC or a few thousand years earlier as many creationists believe (to allow for all the early cities), or whether animals and plants died before Adam, or whether the earth itself was created recently, or whether there is evolution of any sort, and so on. The 4,000 BC date leads to a mass of confusion.
Even bigger problems around the corner:
If you accept that Adam was the first man in 4000 BC, then you quickly find yourself having to oppose evolution and defend a global flood, each of which adds a thousand new problems.
In an effort to believe in Adam, many Mormons adopt one of three compromise positions:
Adam as representative?
Perhaps Adam was not a literal person,but he is representative of all people. If so, the prophets were not only seriously wrong but were liars, since Joseph Smith gave great detail about Adam's life.
Adam as just our lineage?
The easiest way to explain away the evidence is to say that Adam and Eve were a chosen lineage. Other lineages were there, but they were not chosen. This still contradicts the prophets, though not as much. This slight improvement comes at a great price: racism. Not just racism, but the worst kind of racism. It implies that all other races are not just inferior, but not really human.
And it still contradicts the prophets, because they stated that we are all descended from Adam, even people with different skin color (though to believe this they had to believe that black people were descended from Cain and the black skin was a curse).
A slight improvement is to accept the fact of intermarriage and adoption - that the other subhuman races are now mixed with our own glorious race through marriage, and that we will generously allow them to be adopted in to our race. They can share our God-given privileges as long as they they accept our doctrines - that their families who don't join us are choosing to remain sub-human. I am not sure that this is really an improvement. It means that we must say to non-white non-Mormons "you are not human." Could you look someone in the eye and say that?
"We don't really know"?
The official church position is that we don't really know. Most people seem happy with that - it does not seem to make sense now but one day it will be sorted out.However, this is the most dishonest of all the approaches. There are only three possible solutions to the problem: Adam was first, Adam was not first, or Adam did not even exist. Each one of these implies that the church, or God, is a liar. To claim that we do not know is to say we do not even know what kind of liars we are!
Admitting ignorance over the Adam story undermines the temple, which is based on that story. And it undermines the claim to know about God, who is in the image of Adam. And if the church does not know where mankind came from, how can it claim to know where it is going?
"Young Earth Creationists" understand perfectly why these things matter. If the scriptures are wrong on one point, they could be wrong on other points. If the scriptures are wrong on history, why should we trust them on anything else? If science gives better answers than the scriptures, who should we trust?
The choice is simple. Either Adam lived 4,000 BC or the church is unreliable. Choose which you want to believe.
In summary, the 4000 BC teaching is a huge problem. A literal belief contradicts all the evidence. A symbolic interpretation means the prophets are liars. A tribal interpretation means the prophets are unreliable racists. Avoiding the question means the church is lost. And the "no spirits" theory makes God look like a big fraud. "...Houston, we have a problem."
The LDS church teaches that Adam, the first man, lived 4,000 BC. Educated Mormons know that this is nonsense but they teach it anyway.
Adam, our great progenitor, "the first man," was, like Christ, a pre-existent spirit, and like Christ he took upon him an appropriate body, the body of a man, and so became a "living soul." The doctrine of the pre-existence, --revealed so plainly, particularly in latter days, pours a wonderful flood of light upon the otherwise mysterious problem of man's origin. It shows that man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body to undergo an experience in mortality. It teaches that all men existed in the spirit before any man existed in the flesh, and that all who have inhabited the earth since Adam have taken bodies and become souls in like manner.
It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was "the first man of all men" (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the _beginning_ after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: 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.
After receipt of this latter communication the Presidency carefully reviewed the papers which had been submitted to the Council of the Twelve, and after prayerful consideration decided that nothing would be gained by a continuation of the discussion of the subject under consideration.
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.
Both parties make the scripture and the statements of men who have been prominent in the affairs of the Church the basis of their contention; neither has produced definite proof in support of his views.
Still other people accept parts of the Flood story, acknowledging that there may have been a local, charismatic preacher, such as Noah, and a localized flood that covered only a specific area of the world, such as the region of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers or perhaps even the whole of Mesopotamia. Yet these people do not believe in a worldwide or global flood. Both of these groups—those who totally deny the historicity of Noah and the Flood and those who accept parts of the story—are persuaded in their disbelief by the way they interpret modern science. They rely upon geological considerations and theories that postulate it would be impossible for a flood to cover earth’s highest mountains, that the geologic evidence (primarily in the fields of stratigraphy and sedimentation) does not indicate a worldwide flood occurred any time during the earth’s existence.
There is a third group of people—those who accept the literal message of the Bible regarding Noah, the ark, and the Deluge. Latter-day Saints belong to this group. In spite of the world’s arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth. We are assured that these events actually occurred by the multiple testimonies of God’s prophets.
Genesis 7:19–20 [Gen. 7:19–20] states, “All the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered … ; and the mountains were covered.” These verses explicitly state that all of earth’s high mountains (“hills” should read “mountains” here; Hebrew harim) were covered by the waters. Lest one believe that the statement “under the whole heaven” is figurative and can be read or interpreted in different ways, a scriptural search through the entire Old Testament reveals that the phrase is used elsewhere only in a universal sense, as it is here; the phrase does not refer to a geographically restricted area
- Donald W. Parry, “The Flood and the Tower of Babel,” Ensign, Jan. 1998, 35.
The longest wooden ships in modern seas are about 300 feet, and these require reinforcing with iron straps and leak so badly they must be constantly pumped. The ark was 450 feet long. Even with iron bands and pumping it would have sunk.
Some, like sloths and penguins, can't travel overland very well at all. Some cave-dwelling arthropods can't survive in less than 100% relative humidity. Some, like dodos, must have lived on islands. If they didn't, they would have been easy prey for other animals.
The main body of the texts has scanned images of details of certain documents. here are the full page scans.
The New Testament Institute manual as it is today, without the "seven seals" chart.
The Old Testament Manual, on line, still contains the dates for Adam.