Remembering the Lost and De-Emphasized Series – Part 1: Adam-Ondi-Ahman
Since chanson suggested it, I thought I’d get the ball rolling in the new series on “Remembering the Lost and De-Emphasized” esoterica of Mormonism. Rarely do I get stranger looks then when I tell someone unfamiliar with Mormonism that Mormons literally believe that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. I was reminded of this reading this recent article about a lumberjack cutting wood for a temple in Missouri. Of course, Adam-ondi-Ahman isn’t the Garden of Eden, but the Garden has to be close as that is where Adam and Eve lived after they were expelled from the Garden. I know the LDS Church hasn’t given up this doctrine. But I don’t know the last time I heard someone emphasize it (see note below). And it makes sense that they wouldn’t emphasize it. Why? Because the idea that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri runs counter to two prevailing ideas in the modern world:
First, for those still ignorant enough to believe there was a Garden of Eden and an actual Adam and Eve, most think it was in the Middle East (not that there is any real evidence for that belief, but that’s what most fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe). So, claiming the Garden of Eden was in Missouri, of all places, runs counter to widely held Christian beliefs.
Second, claiming the Garden of Eden was in Missouri pretty clearly puts the LDS Church in conflict with evolution and modern science. And since the Church is supposed to not have an official position on evolution (though most of the members don’t accept it), Adam-Ondi-Ahman is kind of egg on the face. So, Adam-Ondi-Ahman doesn’t come up anymore.
Note: I just did a quick check for references to Adam-Ondi-Ahman in General Conference talks. There was a reference in 2006, but it didn’t say that Adam-Ondi-Ahman existed, directly. Prior to that, there was a hit in 2004 to an unpublished hit by that name. Then there was a hit in 1993 referring to it only insofar as there was a temple that was supposed to be there, not in the sense that it was a place of supernatural significance. So, in the last 17 years there have been three references, none of which suggest this is a current belief of the leadership of the religion.