The following is a letter I wrote a few months ago to a Sunday school teacher. The instructor made the point during class that if someone does not accept, as literal fact, the concept of no death on earth before the fall of Adam and in the 6 days or millennia to create the earth, they must deny the plan of salvation and the need for a Savior. Therefore, those teachings and their proponents are anti-Christ. Disturbed by this implication, I wrote the following:
I really enjoyed your lesson on “The Fall” today. Understanding it’s significance gives us the courage to take our trials in this world seriously. We can utilize the power of the atonement to overcome the world and gain eternal life. However, I was disheartened by the idea given by the BYU teacher you mentioned. His claim being that someone who understands and teaches the fall differently are “anti-Christ.”
Instructors like this BYU professor may use harsh language while obscuring the target, so my concerns are based on what I best understand the target to be or on what others might think it is.
Clergy and members of other faiths who don’t understand the fall like we do should learn more from our knowledge, but partial understanding of something is not the same as being against it. The “anti-Christ” label may psychologically divide the children of Heavenly Father unnecessarily—preventing the spread of spiritual knowledge.
In addition, many Latter-Day Saints, such as myself, have studied Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (I’ve read the “The Origin of Species” where Darwin first introduces the concept). Certainly, I do not use a good scientific theory to instruct me in spiritual matters as I do with the Book of Moses or temple worship. But evolution does offer me a sense of wonder and gratitude that is testimony strengthening. As a scientific theory, evolution provides a reasonable connection between fossilized glimpses of ancient creation and our current biological reality. If my earthly body was created by an evolutionary process, so be it. There is no reason to suspect “anti-Christ” in evolution unless it is used, as it is by some thoughtless people, to actually damage faith in Christ.
It is helpful to avoid the risk of alienating good Latter-Day Saints whose testimonies might be weakened from the false perception that irreconcilable conflict exists between an honest, working scientific theory and an uplifting spiritual account of our origin and destiny. Both versions of our origins generate good fruit for the separate needs they fill.
Your lesson was otherwise very good and helped me understand better how the proper view of the fall of Adam and Eve can affect my life for good every day. Thank you!