Dec. 22, 2005

Tom (#123),

The problem with your position is this, Elder Russell M. Nelson has in fact expounded and made the assertions you deny.  For many years, he has talked about these questions and has not only mentioned the "E word," but has asked for volunteers to help overcome such "foolishness of men."  Here is what Elder Nelson said at Brigham Young University on March 29, 1987.

According to the Lord as revealed through his prophets, the fall of Adam instituted the aging process, which ultimately results in physical death. (Ensign, Jan. 1988, 64).

Let me interrupt the quote and mention that the word "instituted" means "to establish,... set in operation; to initiate; begin," therefore the fall of Adam instituted, established, set in operation, initiated, and began the aging process, which ultimately results in physical death.  So, tell me, Tom, how could the process of physical death have existed before the event which instituted it?  He is plainly teaching No Death Before the Fall.  This Apostle of the Lord continues,

Through the ages, some without scriptural understanding have tried to explain our existence by pretentious words such as ex nihilo (out of nothing).  Others have deduced that, because of certain similarities between different forms of life, there has been a natural selection of the species, or organic evolution from one form to another.  Many of these people have concluded that the universe began as a "big bang" that eventually resulted in the creation of our planet and life upon it.

To me, such theories are unbelievable!  Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?  It is unthinkable!  Even if it could be argued to be within a remote realm of possibility, such a dictionary could certainly not heal its own torn pages or renew its own worn corners or reproduce its own subsequent editions!

We are children of God, created by him and formed in his image.  Recently I studied the scriptures to find how many times they testify of the divine creation of man.  Looking up references that referred to create, form (or their derivatives), with either man, men, male,, or female in the same verse, I found that there are at least fifty-five verses of scripture that attest to our divine creation....

I believe all of those scriptures that pertain to the creation of man.  But the decision to believe is a spiritual one, not made solely by an understanding of things physical, for we read that 'the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.' (1 Cor. 2:14.)

It is incumbent upon each informed and spiritually attuned person to help overcome such foolishness of men who would deny divine creation or think that man simply evolved.  By the Spirit, we perceive the truer and more believable wisdom of God. (Ensign, Jan. 1988, 64.)

Not only is Elder Nelson here labeling evolution an "unbelievable" theory, and "foolishness of men," he is asking the "informed and spiritually attuned" among us to help overcome such misunderstandings in the Church.  By the way, this talk by Elder Nelson was also published in the the Church's youth magazine (New Era, Oct. 1987, 44).

In 1991, after the above talk had been twice published by the Church, Elder Nelson wrote another article in which he taught that the creation was paradisiacal (not subject to death).

In the beginning, God created the earth and all that was upon it.  He created man in His own image, male and female created He them.  (See Gen. 1:27; Gen. 5:2; D&C 20:18; Moses 2:27; Moses 6:9.)  Adam and Eve were first created with bodies of flesh and spirit, without blood, and were unable to die or beget children.  Thus, we might describe this as a paradisiacal creation, one that initially equipped Adam and Eve to live in the Garden of Eden, which was in a state of everlasting paradise.  (See Moses 4:28Ė29.) (Ensign, Aug. 1991, 6.)

Two years later, Elder Nelson used the pulpit in general conference to again teach that the creation was paradisiacal (not subject to death).

Adam and Eve were the first people to live upon the earth.  They were different from the plant and animal life that had been created previously.  Adam and Eve were children of God. Their bodies of flesh and bone were made in the express image of Godís.  In that state of innocence, they were not yet mortal.  They could have had no children, were not subject to death, and could have lived in Edenís garden forever.  Thus, we might speak of the Creation in terms of a paradisiacal creation. (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 33.)

Lastly, Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk in the April 2000 general conference, once again teaches the LDS doctrine of No Death Before the Fall.  Keep in mind this time that he has previously, on multiple occasions, associated the word paradisiacal with no death.

The creation of a paradisiacal planet came from God. Mortality and death came into the world through the Fall of Adam....  Eventually, "the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory."  (A of F 1:10.)  At the Second Coming of the Lord, the earth will be changed once again. It will be returned to its paradisiacal state and be made new. (Ensign, May 2000, 84-86.)

In all four of these articles, evolution is "ruled out" by Elder Nelson because No Death Before the Fall is forcefully and unambiguously taught.  Also, it turns out that Elder Nelson does in fact "warn against falling prey to certain prominent theories."

We cannot reasonably assign meaning to Elder Nelson's April 2000 general conference talk that contradicts what he previously taught.  Give him some credit.  Should he ever decide to change his mind about death before the fall and evolution, you can be sure he'll be as clear about his new position, whatever you might imagine that could be, as he has been about his current one.