Remembering the Lost and De-Emphasized Series – Part 1: Adam-Ondi-Ahman

I love that the LDS Church has a sign on the property.

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 Prior to that, there was a hit in 2004 to an unpublished hit by that name.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.


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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28 Responses

  1. kuri says:

    Compared to when I joined the church in the early ’80s, I think pretty much every teaching having to do with the imminence of the Second Coming has been de-emphasized. Maybe everyone got tired of waiting…

  2. Urban Koda says:

    Back when I was doing early morning seminary in New Zealand – 1993 I’m thinking… Our teacher brought up Adam-onhi-ahman, and then taught us how a temple would need to be built and a priesthood meeting wherein Christ would officiate, prior to the second coming.

    She then dropped her voice to a whisper and informed us that she had been told that earth movers had already moved onto the site, and that it wouldn’t be long at all.

    I WAS SOOOO EXCITED!! And then absolutely terrified because there were a couple of things I needed to confess to the bishop, and I was so NOT ready to do that!

  3. Chris says:

    Somewhat part of the Church’s goal to appear more mainstream?

  4. The Bible and Pearl of Great Price mention that the Euphrates is one of four rivers that came out of Eden and that two of the others ran past Ethiopia and Assyria. I know Joseph Smith wasn’t a geography champion or anything, but Missouri is thousands of miles away and on the other side of an ocean.

    Of course, I shouldn’t forget that the lands were divided in the days of Peleg (misinterpretation of the Bible) and that during the Millennium…

    He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land; And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided. (D&C 133:23-24)

    Even if Mormons still believe that the continents were together as Pangaea within the last six thousand years (another de-emphasized teaching), Missouri would still be a long way from the Euphrates.

    Plus, chest high grass at Adam-ondi-Ahman gave me hives all over my body when I was a teenager… in front of a dozen cute girls. Stupid Adam-ondi-Ahman!

  5. Chino Blanco says:

    Hey, speaking of high grass … did anybody else notice the abundant marijuana plants growing at Adam-Ondi-Ahman? Granted, last time I was there was early 80s, but I remember we all got a chuckle.

  6. kuri says:


    I remember this one from my apologetics days. Just like many places in America today have Biblical names, the four rivers that we know today as the Euphrates, etc., were named after the original Garden of Eden rivers. (Gosh, it’s so obvious!)

  7. And the Ethiopia of Genesis wasn’t really the Ethiopia that the authors and readers of Genesis knew about? And Assyria, too?

    Most apologetics is so patently intellectually dishonest, I hate to admit that I allowed it to quell my doubts for so long.

  8. Chris says: has some interesting rebuttals to the biblical names apologetic defense. Or you can watch the video:

  9. Thanks, Chris. Very interesting.

  10. Carla says:

    So my husband was aware of the whole thing (who grew up in the 90’s). Do you mean emphasized publicly or in teaching the general membership?

  11. chanson says:

    If he was raised Mormon, then he was probably at least vaguely aware of it (though these sorts of unique doctrines were already on the way out by the ’90’s).

    As usual for anything that hasn’t been in the manual for a few years, you naturally have a divide between members who know about it (and assume everybody knows about it), and other members who don’t know about it.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that — even if this tale sounds outlandish — it’s not significantly weirder than other stuff religions teach. I mean, look at that “Garden of Eden” story as a whole, with its talking snakes, and death being introduced to the world by eating a fruit, etc. If Mormons add “…and it took place in Missouri,” to that, it’s not the “and it happened in Missouri” part that should leave you going “OMG, how could anyone believe something so absurd?” 😉

  12. Mitch says:

    Lol u clearly know nothing

  13. Mitch says:

    it shows how little you know because once something becomes a doctrine of the church, it stays a doctrine of the church. Unless otherwise specifically abandoned by the leaders of the church through revelation. And if this was the case they would then publicly announce the abandonment of this doctrine. As they did on october 6th 1890 in regards to the “manifesto”. Which was the public announcement of the end of the practice of plural marrage, as being abandoned not only as a practice of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints. But as doctrine as well. So unless you see a public announcement denouncing the doctrine of Adam-Ondi-Ahman from a member of the Presidency of the church after a direct revelation on their part, do not assume the church has abandoned it. If you have not heard it mentioned recently it may just be that there are more pressing topics to address to prepare the saints for the second coming.

  14. Mitch says:

    These posts of mine were obviously ment for the author of this tpoic.

  15. Mitch says:

    If the leaders are not emphasizing it its because they have not received revelation to do so. as they have with other topics such as immorality, marrage, the fact that the savior lives, service, humanitarian aid, etc.

  16. Daniel says:

    Mitch’s view seems obvious to me (but you need to do a search on ‘post-manifesto polygamy’, Mitch). It makes sense that doctrines would stay doctrinal until further notice, instead of having to be ‘refreshed’ after a while.

    Are there any other religions where, if you haven’t heard a doctrine for a while, you should assume it’s been deprecated? I mean, does any other church do things this way? It’s just such a strange way to maintain a canon.

  17. Jonathan says:

    Mitch, I was also going to suggest you look up the solemnization of polygamous marriages by church leaders after 1890. If you haven’t read it already, a great book about that time period is Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-Day Saints, 1890-1930.

  18. un-known says:

    This is bullshit
    Get a life !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    no one cares what you believe
    take this crap DOWN

  19. chanson says:

    @18 lol.

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that your comment is a joke. I assume I don’t seriously need to explain to you that leaving comments on random websites — to tell them how uninteresting they are — is not the best way to demonstrate how to “get a life”. 😉

  20. Molly says:

    I’m trying to decide if Mitch and un-known are trolls going out of their way to make believing LDS look stupid. If so, this isn’t very kind. If they are sincere defenders of the faith, it may be useful for them to realise that statements like “Get a life” followed by twenty-two exclamation points and “Lol u clearly know nothing” with no punctuation at all will generally be regarded as somewhat less than compelling arguments.

  21. Kevin Rex says:

    And, don’t forget, we still have the hymn, “Adam-ondi-Ahman” in the hymnal, but I’ll bet most Mormons younger than me (50) haven’t ever heard it sung. Maybe the new hymnal (I hear rumors of a new one coming out, hopefully including such new treasures as “The Family is of God” with presiding fathers and nurturing mothers) will get rid of it, and that’ll add to the “de-emphasizing” and “I don’t know that we teach that.”

  22. chanson says:

    @21 I agree — stuff like that made it interesting!

    Sure, it’s silly, but not objectively crazier than stuff taught by other religions…

  23. lisa hoopes says:

    This is bullshit!!

    Google take it DOWN!!!!!!!!

    keep your opinion to YOURSELF

    IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!! MORMONS 4 ya

  24. chanson says:

    I know I shouldn’t feed he trolls, but… “Google take it DOWN!!!!!!!!” @23, are you aware that Google does not, in fact, own the Internet?

  25. hydroplane says:

    Nothing proves dna came from evolution. The earth has a Creator and He has residence. Some physicist theorized the earth was made of strings and argument was accurate. The latter day saints, reorganized lds, community of Christ have ownership of the land and the Indians too. It’s sacred ground. Not just for Mormons but for those who will follow Christ and see Him here.

  26. LDS CRAP!! says:

    This Bullshit has no place on google nor anywhere for that matter!
    What a crock this SO CALLED no church is!!!
    People get a REAL LIFE

  27. ondi-rettuss says:

    i put it here cause i’m narcisistic

  28. chanson says:

    @27 & @28 It’s not “on google”. Please see our commenting policy.

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