Friday, March 17, 2006

Garden of Eden and Evolution as One

This is a post I made as a guest blogger over at The Blogger of Jared about how Evolution and the Garden of Eden might be related. There are some points that I might return to later, such as the idea that the fall brought death; the thorniest issue. You can read other people's responses at the link, or add your own here.

To put it simply, I believe in Evolution as part of the Creation. I also believe in The Garden of Eden, complete with real persons named Adam and Eve. This presents a serious conundrum. Part of our problem is that we are trying to put a round block into a square peg. The two things of The Garden of Eden and Biological Evolution just don't seem to go together. When we try reconciliation, it only ends up messing with one or the other. The importance or existence of one of the two becomes seriously questioned. Assuming that both are correct, how can they be made to co-exist? For years I have been doing a little theological speculation thought experiment on the subject. From my research I have come to a tentative conclusion that they can relate.

First, we must realize that scientific understanding of Creation is not too different from the Scriptural explanations of how it all started. The first day was about the creation of the elemental forces of the universe, particularly light (Gen 1:1-5). The second day talks about the Earth's planetary formation. The land and water are separated from each other, with water probably becoming liquefied below and gaseous above (Gen 1:6-8). After this, the Scriptural account becomes more scrambled from what we know scientifically. Most of the out of order information has to do with the development of time (Abraham 4:13-17). It is more of a conceptual than a creative development, finding uses for what has already been formed.

It is at this point that a very sketchy presentation of Evolution can be read in the material. The first mention of living things is plants, rather than animals (Abraham 4:11-12). This seems consistent with what is known of Earth's development. Plants were the first living things to develop on land. Animals followed later. Reading about the development of animal life can be interpreted to support the idea that life originated in the oceans, as Evolutionary theory postulates:

And the Gods prepared the waters that they might bring forth great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters were to bring forth abundantly after their kind; and every winged fowl after their kind. And the God's saw they would be obeyed, and that their plan was good. (Abraham 4:21)

The Scriptures then state that every creature will bring forth after their kind. For those who don't believe in Evolution, they see this as an indication that changes can't happen. A lion can't bring forth a bear. It wouldn't be after their kind. However, the theory of Evolution doesn't say that is possible either. Any developments would be dependent on the sharing of DNA between two parents. Drastic mutations would hurt the chances for survival. Besides, fossil discoveries seem to provide strong evidence that life has never been static. To me it is about reading two different versions of the same event. God simply didn't fill in the details.

At this point the Garden of Eden must be introduced. Reading of Adam and Eve seems to be a refutation of all that went before. I don't believe that is completely true. Perhaps they have little to do with each other. They both happened, but not for the same reasons. Evolution was in one corner developing life and The Garden in another changing human nature.

The Garden of Eden was most likely the first Temple on the Earth (see The Gate of Heaven by Matthew B. Brown, pg. 26 - 33), and by nature separate from the rest of the planet. Some similarities to the Temple are the Presence of God, a central location, a place where sacred rivers run (see Rev. 22:1), having precious materials that High Priests wear, and etc. It is clear from reading the Scriptural account that the Garden of Eden was a specific place. Modern Revelation has located the Garden of Eden having been in Jackson County Missouri. Like the City of Enoch, it no longer exists on the Earth and might have been taken up to Heaven.

Eventually, although it would have to near the end of Evolution, Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. It was at this time when the Lord God made coats of skin and clothed them (Moses 4: 27), sending them back to "till the ground from whence he was taken"(Moses 4:29). Adam and Eve had once again become part of the world we know. Pres. Brigham Young said that Adam was born like any person. Perhaps Adam and Eve were taken from the Evolutionary process, made a Son and Daughter of God through Temple ordinances, and returned back when they had become spiritually prepared for a life of choice.

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