This is a follow-up to “The Age of the Earth” post, although I suppose that one was really laying the groundwork for this one. This is where everything comes to a head (like the one shown here). Was there death before the Fall of Adam and Eve? It is a very delicate question, because there are very strong feelings on many sides of the issue, some of which may have tremendous gospel implications as well. So here we will tread lightly, and attempt to not make any dogmatic conclusions. I’m not sure I have any besides. These are simply some first impressions on the subject. Because that is the case, we will ask more questions here than we attempt to answer in any substantial way.
This is a point of presumed doctrine in LDS belief that causes consternation for many members. Similar to the age of the Earth question, it causes cognitive dissonance for some, insofar that some even lose their faith in the Church, and even leave the Church. I perceive that this should not be. There are answers, even if preliminary, to most of these difficult questions. It should also be noted that questions such as these are not necessarily central to the gospel, nor to our salvation, but they do affect some people’s ability to function in the Church because of the cognitive dissonance it causes them.
The belief, as I introduced above, is that there was no death before the Fall of Adam and Eve. No death, period. On the other hand, the world and its legions of scientists of all stripes inform us that there were dinosaurs, dating back 230 million years, with bones scattered in all parts of the world (one of the largest caches is located right here in Vernal, Utah). There were trilobites, perhaps the most common fossil, dating back 526 million years (again, one of the richest quarries is just west of Delta, Utah, where you can actually “farm” for trilobites to take home.) There were ancient forests, plant life, zooplankton, and algae, dating back millions of year, which helped give us the crude oil that powers much of our world today. There are even bones of hominids that used stone tools that most scientists concur died a couple million years ago. Indeed, there are even bones of anatomically modern humans that have been dated to up to 200,000 years old (see the image above). [Read more…]