Mormonism … rooted in evolution?
How the Mormon belief system is ultimately materialistic
The knock at the door was followed by a familiar sight as two smiling, formally dressed young men with name badges said “Hello”. Their identification as Elder such-and-such confirmed my notion that they were Mormons.
Wanting to ‘cut to the chase’ as soon as possible, after a brief introduction I said (something similar to), “Gentlemen, you have come to my door to convince me of what you believe. I’ll just be honest. I am a born–again Christian and I am going to try and convince you of what I believe. Would you mind if I asked you some questions?” They indicated they were fine with questions.
“I do not want to misrepresent what you hold to, so please correct me if I say something that isn’t right about your beliefs. From what I understand you believe that if I became a Mormon and followed your teaching, I could eventually become a god over my own planet. Is that true?”
They seemed surprised with my candour but agreed my information was correct.1 So I went on and asked; “Okay then, please tell me how I can become a god; explain the criteria.”
They gave me some specific things I would have to do including having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, being repentant, getting baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit.
I then asked; “I also understand you believe that the first god was once a man that grew in wisdom and became a god. Is that true?” They indicated yes, that was what they believed.
[One can read that this is indeed standard teaching of the Mormon ‘church’ by reading what their founder Joseph Smith Jr (1805–1844) wrote in its regard;
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.
I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was god from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.
It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for certainty the character of God, to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us, yea that God Himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ did…Here then is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God, and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, the same as all Gods have done before you.”2]
So I then asked, “Where did that first man come from? Did he evolve from lower life forms that spontaneously generated? He must have if there was no other god to have created him, right? And aren’t you saying then that the very first god became a god in a completely different way than we are supposed to be able to become gods today?” (Obviously Jesus and the Holy Spirit wouldn’t have existed yet and baptism [a symbolic act] would have been meaningless at that time).
Both looked completely dumbfounded and started mumbling back and forth to each other but finally the fellow who seemed more ‘in charge’ admitted he didn’t know the answer to those questions. They also indicated they didn’t hold to evolutionary theory.
I asked how they could believe in Mormonism when they couldn’t explain such a foundational issue (origins). We discussed other issues such as the book of Mormon’s lack of historical or archaeological evidence to support it. They seemed increasingly distressed.
“Gentlemen, you came to my door today to convince me of the truth of what you believe and I have asked you many good questions to which you seem to have no answers. Perhaps there are answers that you just don’t know. But if you go back to your leaders and cannot get real answers, maybe it’s time you recognised that perhaps what you were taught is wrong.”
This isn’t something to take lightly as it has eternal consequences. You may have been deceived into believing you will one day be gods over your own planet. Isn’t it interesting that in the Garden of Eden Satan said to Eve “You will not surely die3 … you will be like God …” (Genesis 3:4–5)
The most vocal of the two suddenly blurted out “Well when I stand in front of God He will know that I’ve done everything I can to serve Him and followed what I was taught and done it to the best of my ability etc. etc.” His ‘works’ literally fell from his mouth as he attempted to justify himself through his actions.
A different Gospel
To truly understand what Mormonism teaches we need to understand that their concept of salvation is faith plus baptism, plus works.
Full salvation is attained by virtue of knowledge, truth, righteousness, and all true principles. Many conditions must exist in order to make such salvation available to men. Without the atonement, the gospel, the priesthood, and the sealing power, there would be no salvation. Without continuous revelation, the ministering of angels, the working of miracles, the prevalence of gifts of the spirit, there would be no salvation … There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.4
And according to Mormon Theology Joseph Smith is the one who holds the keys to heaven.
—namely that not man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial-kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are.5
I shared the true gospel according to the Bible with them and they went on their way, visibly shaken. I genuinely felt sorry for both of them as they were both quite young and realized that their faith was something they felt strongly about (but obviously something they had not pondered deeply). I wanted to convey truth but try not to cause a stumbling block of offense.
This experience and the questions I asked were not planned out in advance, I simply stumbled through them on the spot. As a speaker with Creation Ministries International I commonly ‘go to Genesis’ when dealing with cults because it is an area I am comfortable with and the cults almost always misinterpret Genesis. However since then I have researched the Mormon religion more deeply and my initial assumptions were confirmed.
The ‘arranger’, not the creator
The Mormon church teaches that God did not create Ex Nihilo (from nothing) as the Bible clearly says (Hebrews 11:3). They say that matter is eternal and that the gods (even the original god they call ‘Heavenly Father’) arranged pre-existing ‘elements’ to form the world(s).
From the Church of Latter Day Saints’ own website by searching ‘Creation’ we read;
Under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth (see Mosiah 3:8; Moses 2:1). From scripture revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, we know that in the work of the Creation, the Lord organized elements that had already existed (see Abraham 3:24). He did not create the world “out of nothing”, as some people believe.6
This idea comes from Mormonism’s founding father Joseph Smith who also wrote;
Now the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end.7
So to put the Mormon’s proposed view of origins into a chronological sequence it would state;
- First there was matter (which always existed).
- This matter somehow produced the first man who grew in wisdom and became (the first) God.
- This God produced other humans.
- From these humans came other Gods.
Logical consequences …
Although most Mormons may not adhere to the following logical conclusions as their beliefs, this is ultimately a materialistic worldview that at its core is similar to atheism. For even if Mormonism teaches that there are gods (intelligent designers/arrangers), they are ultimately the result of some kind of an evolutionary process (matter produced a man who became a god).
This is similar to how many atheists are comfortable with the concept of ‘aliens’ perhaps seeding life on earth or that we may be the result of some sort of intelligent design, as long as that ‘designer’ resulted from some type of evolution. (This is what Richard Dawkins proposed as a possible answer to the potential of any sort of intelligent design being found in nature [not that he said he thought there was any evidence of this] in Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.)
Interestingly, this evolutionary origin does not seem to be an explicit part of most Mormon teaching. It is rather as if it was simply never thought through. Although some modern Mormons seem open to evolutionary ideas, official Mormon teaching has been adamantly against it.
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. 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.8
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.9
The evolution of Mormon thought
However, some modern Mormon literature seems to have embraced mainstream evolutionary ideas. The book Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding (2001)10 accepts wholeheartedly that Mormonism is completely compatible with biological evolution over millions of years due to ‘natural selection’. Although not the ‘official view’, recent articles regarding the age of the earth and evolution confirm that “mainstream scientific theories of evolutionary biology, old-earth geology and paleontology are openly taught at BYU and BYU-Idaho (Brigham Young University).”11
It is no wonder many Mormons are becoming comfortable with the idea of evolution (and even offshoots derived from it such as Transhumanism), as their core doctrines are completely compatible with such ideas. Hence arguments against evolution and a detailed examination of origins can be a real benefit when witnessing to Mormons as it forces them to confront some major inconsistencies in their belief system.
References and notes
- I have since learned that most Mormon missionaries are taught not to be so candid about admitting to what they believe about certain of their doctrines. This is especially true of their teaching that God was once a man and that men can become Gods. Watch Mormon leader Robert Millet train Mormon missionaries how not to answer those kinds of questions: youtube.com/watch?v=e3I6t3VodO4 Return to text.
- Spiritual Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1938, pp. 345, 346, http://scriptures.byu.edu/tpjs/STPJS.pdf Return to text.
- The Hebrew has an even stronger force: “You will certainly not die.”Return to text.
- Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 669–70, 1966, Deseret Book Company, Bookcraft Inc, 1966 Return to text.
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volumes 7-8, Intelligence, etc p. 289, 1860, Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses. Return to text.
- lds.org/topics/creation?lang=eng, (Updated 2/21/2012) Return to text.
- Teachings of Joseph Smith, pp. 350-352. Return to text.
- Improvement Era, 75–81 The Origin of Man, Joseph, F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund, First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nov. 1909, www.lds.org/ensign/2002/02/the-origin-of-man?lang=eng Return to text.
- The Magnificence of Man By Elder Russell M. Nelson Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, This is an edited version of a talk delivered at Brigham Young University on 29 March 1987, www.lds.org/ensign/1988/01/the-magnificence-of-man?lang=eng&query=evolution. Return to text.
- Stephens, T.D., Meldrum, D. J. and Peterson, F.B., Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2001. Return to text.
- Bailey, D.H., History of the LDS Church’s view on the age of the earth and evolution, www.sciencemeetsreligion.org/lds/lds-history-evolution.html, March 2010. Return to text.
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