Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood


Why Mormons Should Embrace Evolution: BYU Biology Professor Steven Peck

posted by Jana Riess
HereComesScience.jpg

Recently a young mother complained to me that a non-Mormon family member had given her children the They Might Be Giants album Here Comes Science, which contains a song about evolution called “My Brother the Ape” (check out the great cartoon music video). She was uncomfortable with the lyrics because she felt they were incompatible with Mormonism, the Bible, America, and apple pie. Probably baseball too.

I didn’t challenge her views about Mormons and evolution, because the conversation didn’t occur in the right context and I have been trying to listen more and shout out my own opinion less. (I know, I know. Good luck with that, Jana.) However, I did tell Phil about the album and we joyfully went out and bought it that same week. We’re delighted to have fun, clever music to help our daughter learn about evolution.

But this young mother is not alone in believing that evolution is not compatible with her religious views. According to a 2004 Gallup poll, 45% of Americans stated that human beings had been created by God in their current form just 10,000 years ago. In 2009, on the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, Gallup found that only 4 in 10 Americans “believe” in evolution (a bizarre terminology that itself suggests doubt about science; I have yet to hear Christians debate whether they “believe” in gravity or the germ theory of disease, for example).

I’m always surprised and disappointed when I encounter such anti-evolution attitudes in my church and in other faiths. So it’s a relief to me to have scientists like BYU’s Steven Peck, who can explain far better than I can why Mormonism is not only compatible with evolution, but why Mormons have unique theological reasons for embracing it. He does this with wit, humor, and style. I am pleased to welcome him as a guest blogger. –JKR

By Steven Peck

I am a Mormon. And an ape. This pairing is not customary, notwithstanding most Mormons, as members of the human race, are. There is nothing terribly exceptional or unusual about my apishness, but I thought it necessary to point out, because I want to talk about this a bit. Like many Mormons, I am big on genealogy. Although, I must admit, my recent ancestry has captured me less thoroughly than my deep heritage. Still, let’s not go too far back, I don’t want to talk about my invertebrate, fishy, or even reptilian past. I want to natter about two of my ape-line grandmothers.

One of my grandmothers was a small thing, with a head about the size of a chimp. But here is the incredible thing–she walked upright. Her hands thus free allowed her to fashion rocks into a slightly more useful form. Take a chip off a stone here. Flake off a bit there. And voila! You have just the thing needed to hack open a bone with a little more panache. My grandmother was a lovely woman, and even if she and I are not in the same species, I owe much of what I am to her.

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My other grandmother, a little more recent, looked a lot like me. I’ve got her eyes and nose. And her braincase. This woman’s ancestors, fully human for about 600,000 years, made remarkable stone tools. A stunningly brilliant act of functional craftwork and tool manufacture compared to my, and her, more distant über-great grandmothers. Even so, sadly, nothing had changed much for a few hundred thousand years. Same old same old stone paraphernalia. Then about 50,000 years ago something astonishing emerged. My grandmother’s folk, living sometime around then, invented art! Her people started decorating things. Gear was made without a practical day-to-day function; fashioned just because it looked elegant. Her people painted cave walls. Established Rituals. Made music and likely danced (dancing has not fossilized well). The dead were honored in new and elaborate ways. Grandmother’s peeps suddenly were wildly inventive! What a woman.

Her tabernacle, I think, was almost ready for something extraordinarily special that God had in mind for his spirit children.

Mormon theology is uniquely positioned to embrace an evolutionarily-based theology. The first reason is that we believe in continuing revelation. We believe in updating our text. God continues to expand our views, deepen our understanding, and reshape and even radically change our current understanding. In an early revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed: “Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.” D&C 1:24. Therefore, we are open to new thoughts and views, because we believe God varies the manner of his message to our circumstance, understanding, and perspective. In addition, Mormonism has a history of being friendly to science.

In fact, Joseph Smith was called by some of his most thoughtful followers, “a scientist.” Evolution by natural selection is the most important scientific discovery of modern times (I am stoically unapologetic about the lack of equivocation in that statement). The evidences for it are staggeringly abundant, detailed, and scientifically undeniable. Our perspective of an open canon allows us to accept this new revelation from the book of nature without getting stuck in past pre-Darwinian quagmires. Mormons are all about continuing revelation. It’s what we do best.

Some will undoubtedly point out to me that there were apostles who once said that evolution was of the devil and all that. These men were, of course, the children of their culture. Anti-Darwinian fervor swept through America at the time they were living, and Christian fundamentalism waged a war on science that continues today. That they were caught up in this distraction is neither surprising nor disturbing. We are all the victims of our times. Hello! That is why the Lord speaks to us in our language (as broadly construed). I suppose if the apostleship had been, counterfactually, filled with scientists, the business-savvy mavens now would trace out how uninformed they were about modern corporate practices, and the tale would be about how, say, the church was driven into inefficiency, or even bankruptcy. You know scientists. But this needn’t worry us. Things are getting straightened out now. Evolutionary thinking is on the way in, and static old creationism on its way out. Adieu. What about Adam and Eve? The Fall? Yes. We will keep all our essential doctrines. It will take some sorting out. Of course. But we are a patient people.

The second reason Mormonism is evolutionary theory friendly, is that it is deeply materialistic–in the respectable sense. Meaning there is something wonderfully essential about matter. We came to Earth from a preexistent, materialism-lite, to be made of this kind of matter–the kind of matter that we now see shuttling about the universe. There was something wildly vital about our connecting with this proton-neutrony stuff; necessary even to the point that we wanted to be hooked up with it eternally. Like God. We, as material . . . somethings, have the opportunity to change, grow and become something new and astonishing. Like my grandmothers did.

Of course, I’ve just sketched a wildly broad-brush, cartoonish view, and there are a lot of details to be worked out, but in short, Mormons believe in a flavor of eternal evolution. How wonderful that this is paralleled in the history of the Earth. This, also links me physically to all the creatures of the Earth. My physical body, formed in an evolutionary process, is part of the history of this Earth. This Earth that I believe is my final destiny. Mormons believe this will be our final home, along with the creatures that lived here. The very same creatures that evolved and emerged on this planet. Circles within circles. Worlds without end. What a breathtaking thought that I am connected to this Earth’s physical processes in deep time–past and future.

I am a Mormon. And an Ape. On my way to something wondrous.


Steven L. Peck is a high school drop-out from Moab, Utah and Associate Professor of Biology at Brigham Young University where he teaches The History and Philosophy of Biology and Bioethics. His does research in theoretical mathematical ecology, philosophy of biology, and insect stuff. When he grows up he wants to be a novelist or a poet or create sentient robots (all about equally likely). Until then he blogs at bycommonconsent, and runs a Faith/Science blog where he extols the virtues of mixing theology and Darwinian evolution. He lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with his wife Lori. They have five children and 2.55 grandchildren.



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Joseph Smidt

posted September 20, 2010 at 2:14 pm


Very well written Steve Peck. And I fully agree that the LDS church is “uniquely positioned to embrace an evolutionarily-based theology.” The belief in modern day revelation is key.



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Ronan

posted September 20, 2010 at 3:28 pm


I love Steve Peck. That is all.



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cowboy

posted September 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm


This article and Mr. Pecks position are most certainly a mutant strain of Mormonism. Continuing revelation and an open canon are not license for morphing theology. How does he reconcile a religion, which he states is governed by revelation, is conflicted by “culture”. Is your Church led by revelation sir, or culture, I can’t tell. Secondly, inspite of the appeal to an open canon, what recent additions to that canon justify your position. And to be honest, is the canon really open? And open to additions from who? Certainly not you sir.
Lastly, what an odd comparison, trading the rather fixed position of natural law with modern business theory? Is this man, really a Professor?



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Karen

posted September 20, 2010 at 4:08 pm


Steve, thanks for this fun and optimistic look at Mormonism and evolution. And also thanks for painting all our ancestors’s achievements in a light we can be proud of. I’ve never heard it expressed that way before and I like it. Can you put up a link to your faith/science blog so I can read and learn more about this?



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S.Faux

posted September 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm


Steve:
I recently told my High Priests group that, “Some of us like to fish, and others like to think we evolved from fish.” They laughed. I saw that as progress.
I believe in gradual (line by line) evolutionary steps. I would love it if everyone accepted evolutionary science, but I must accept the fact that progress occurs slowly.
Like you, I think evolution fits Mormonism like a glove. Of course, most Mormons would balk at that proposition. So, I must be content with making measurements on skulls, and with doing genealogy in my own way — going way past Adam & Eve.



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Jennifer

posted September 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm


That was awesome Steve. And Cowboy, The Family: A Proclamation to the World was added to the LDS cannon in 1995. Is that recent enough for you?
One of my favorite classes at BYU was Biological Anthropology, wherein we got to handle casts of various bones from our distant ancestors and use the dreaded “e” word (evolution) at will. No one wasted any time pretending we didn’t believe in it or or coming up with zany alternative explanations for what we talked about, and as far as I know no testimonies were shaken.



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Max

posted September 20, 2010 at 5:15 pm


This guy is going to look like a fool when he realizes that the “grandmothers” he cited are completely fake. Do a bit of research on where and how everything from sketches and bones have been evaluated. HOCUS POCUS and extrapolations.
Man is the offspring of God. End of story.



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Max

posted September 20, 2010 at 5:17 pm


This guy is in the crowd of lunatics who think the missing link is a dead lemur….



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Shelley

posted September 20, 2010 at 5:39 pm


I really like the account of the creation found in the book of Abraham. It often points out that when the Gods (the plural being the correct translation of Elohim referring to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ possibly along with Heavenly Mother) created something, they “saw that it was obeyed.” Verse 18 says, “And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.” This seems to imply that after they planted something or put something into place, they watched and waited for it to grow or, yes, evolve into its intended form.
I took a general ed biology class this past spring term at BYU and really enjoyed the open discussion of evolution the professor attempted to bring into the class. Unfortunately, it was often shut down by many students.
Generally, the ever-increasing acceptance of science by the LDS community makes me optimistic about its future despite those who continually push it away.
Thanks for posting. :)



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Brad Carmack

posted September 20, 2010 at 5:59 pm


Great article! This post got more comments than mine did- I’m jealous. :)
I also share in the optimism about the Mormon community’s increasing openness to Darwinian evolution.



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SeveP

posted September 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm


Karen, here is the link to my Faith/Science Blog.
http://sciencebysteve.net
There is more detail on an LDS evolutionary friendly view there. Look at S.Faux above too!.



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SteveP

posted September 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm


I can’t even spell my own name right! That was me above.
And Brad I had not seen yours! Thanks.



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DMc

posted September 20, 2010 at 6:25 pm


I just love how people who read too many books (meaning, listening to too many people with worldly opinions) are so willing to lean to their own understanding.
It could be we are on a world made up of other, long ago destroyed, worlds and the present incarnation is only a few thousand years old. Ever think of that? That may not be true either. However, if you want to know the answer to this righteous desire of your heart, study, pray and do good works for your fellow man instead of always finding an excuse to dig up another can of worms.



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Jana Riess

posted September 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm


And Steve, I have a related Mormonism-and-evolution question for you. Right now I am reading Philip Barlow’s book “Mormons and the Bible,” and he discusses how Joseph Smith taught that the two different creation stories in the Bible were meant to be distinct: Genesis 1 was a spiritual creation, and Genesis 2 a physical one. if this is the case in Smith’s theology, doesn’t that open the door for evolutionary theory and a very old earth?



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Trevor

posted September 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm


Thanks for this, Steve and Jana. I’d love for more Mormons to realize that the science behind evolution not only non-threatening to the theology, but an integral part of our understanding of the life sciences.



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Steven

posted September 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm


Good brother Peck may have been descended from apes. I was not. If we are descended from apes, so are apes, and we are all the same. In that case, it could be argued that certain races regarded by other races as inferior just have not evolved yet. Want to go with that one, anybody? If that be so, then either apes are accountable for their actions or we are not. If there were no Adam and Eve, then the entire Bible and the Book of Mormon are lies. There was then no fall, and by man came not death. Thus, there is no sin, (we are just animals) and no need for an atonement, nor a Savior, who would be, dare we say, just another sinless ape accountable to no one. It would also require us to believe that a being who can create so many wonderful varieties of life cannot create a human, but had to start with primordial slime and work his way up. If God can make an ape, he can make a man. And if we are apes, we are children of apes, not children of God.
To believe that may satisfy the needs of some intellectuals to reconcile God’s eternal plan with man’s science. I prefer to wait until I have a full understanding of God and His plans, and suppose that then science will be understandable as well.



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SteveP

posted September 20, 2010 at 10:01 pm


“I prefer to wait until I have a full understanding of God and His plans, and suppose that then science will be understandable as well.”
Yet you are not using the wondrous text he gave us written in the Earth itself. We are to study, that scripture as well–as you’ll recall from the D&C (Remember all that about ‘studying things under the Earth?’). Sitting on your laurels when there are truths to be discovered by the means He’s already given in the here and now (science) will never play well with from my perspective (or Elder Scott’s, who argued that science is one of the ways of discovering truth), that if we don’t use the tools we’ve been given, nothing more will be handed to us. Sitting around waiting for God to spoon feed you truth seems a bit lazy, don’t you think?
Jana, I think that is right! I loved Barlow’s book. I read it several years ago and found it very perceptive. We don’t really talk about that distinction between the two creations much, but I think there is some richness there. Our ideas of physical nature really do line up nicely with an evolved physical reality. I’m less certain what the spiritual creation actually means, but I have a feeling that it was more important and part of a deep structuring that lets this physical reality unfold. I think most people picture a kind of ghost creation, which is like a cartoon version of the real creation, identical to this one, except not has ‘filled in.’ But I think the spiritual creation must have been preparatory to the physical creation in ways that aline with the unfolding of the universe that we have discovered with science.



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DMc

posted September 20, 2010 at 11:23 pm


Just a blurb from Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, February 8, 1857. From Journal of Discourses
To bring the truth of this matter close before you, I will instance your fathers who made the first permanent settlement in New England. There [p. 217a] are a good many in this congregation whose fathers landed upon Plymouth Rock in the year 1620. Those fathers began to spread abroad; they had children, those children had children, and their children had children, and here are we their children. I am one of them, and many of this congregation belong to that class. Now ask yourselves this simple question upon natural principles, has the species altered? Were not the people who landed at Plymouth Rock the same species with us? Were they not organized as we are? Were not their countenances similar to ours? Did they not converse, have knowledge, read books? Were there not mechanics among them, and did they not understand agriculture, &c., as we do? Yes, every person admits this.
Now follow our fathers further back and take those who first came to the island of Great Britain, were they the same species of beings as those who came to America? Yes, all acknowledge this; this is upon natural principles. Thus you may continue and trace the human family back to Adam and Eve, and ask, “are we of the same species with Adam and Eve?” Yes, every person acknowledges this; this comes within the scope of our understanding.
But when we arrive at that point, a veil is dropped, and our knowledge is cut off. Were it not so, you could trace back your history to the Father of our spirits in the eternal world. He is a being of the same species as ourselves; He lives as we do, except the difference that we are earthly, and He is heavenly. He has been earthly, and is of precisely the same species of being that we are. Whether Adam is the personage that we should consider our heavenly Father, or not, is considerable of a mystery to a good many. I do not care for one moment how that is; it is no matter whether we are to consider Him our God, or[p. 217b] whether His Father, or His Grandfather, for in either case we are of one species—of one family—and Jesus Christ is also of our species.
Food for thought.



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Raymond Takashi Swenson

posted September 20, 2010 at 11:24 pm


Thanks for the enlightening discussion. I recently gave a Fireside talk to my ward’s high priests and their wives on the same theme: that the Latter-day Saints, unlike most traditional Christians, believe in seeking further light and knowledge through Revelation, and we also, in many places, including the 13th Article of Faith, are taught by prophets that we should seek out all knowledge that is in the world that is good and virtuous and true. We are called to be humble seekers of truth, wherever truth may be found.
The fact is that much of what Mormons think about Creation is more folklore than it is Revelation. Before Bruce McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith (two apostles I met personally, especially McConkie, who supervised my mission and set me apart) adopted the (actually pretty recently formulated) Creator in a Hurry idea, and put it into their not-Church-endorsed books, there were officially-Church-endorsed sermons and writings by apostle-scientists John Widtsoe and James Talmage who did not fear the discoveries of Science, and in particular saw evolution as a manifestation of the principle of Eternal Progression. If we were good Gospel scholars, we would know that Mormonism does NOT require members to believe in a 6-day or 6,000 year creation week.
As to the idea averted to by one commenter, that earth was made up of pieces of prior planets–How does that reconcile Genesis with geology? The idea certainly offends any traditional Protestant who insists that the earth was created “ex nihilo”–out of nothing, and he would tell you that this was a heretical notion not in Genesis! If you adopt that “bits and pieces” theory (especially to explain dinosaur fossils) then you are admitting that Creation was taking place long before the making of the earth, but then you have already discarded your 6,000 year schedule!
The statement of Joseph Smith that the “bits” idea was based on, is a well-attested statement that the earth was made of other “worlds” or “globes”. That was all. Not that this acocunted for fossil dinosaurs, just “other worlds” were turned into “earth”. Now that idea certainly sounded strange for the first 150 years after it was written down. No scientists would think it was meaningful. However, current scientific models of the creation of the Solar System have 100 small planets gradually colliding and forming into the current array of 8 large planets, with 8 or 10 going into making the earth! In particular, the last collision took place about 4.3 billion years ago, when a Mars-sized planet struck Earth Mark I at such an angle that it imparted a high angular momentum, even as the two globes melted together, and the lighter rock elements became vaporized and were driven out into orbit, finally coalescing into the Moon, which gradually through tidal forces spun further out away from Earth, until, at a time when mankind is scientifically inclined, it has the peculiar property that, quite regularly, the image of the moon passes in front of the image of the Sun, and both images have precisely the same visible diameter, to an astonishing precision! For signs and seasons, indeed! It should make us suspicious. How likely is it that this precision, which has had such an effect on our science, was the result of pure random chance?
When one sees the Earth being formed from these collisions in various TV computer simulations, one thinks, “Hmm–Joseph Smith described exactly this kind of event. And he did it 150 years ago, when no scientist thought this, and no religious minister thought it. He made what sounded like a wild-hare statement about a scientific event, and he was spot on with 21st Century science! Where did THAT come from? It is almost like he got to see something just like we are able to see with our super-computer simulations.” Joseph Smith was beyond the science of his day, and beyond the religion too. We should stick with him.



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Neil Alexander Walker

posted September 21, 2010 at 1:41 am


My grandmother was born in Logan, Utah in 1908 to Mormon parents. She was a devout member all her life. She gave me a book about the expedition to the Gobi that uncovered the first fossils of protoceratops when I was still a toddler. I had no idea that Mormons didn’t believe in evolution till I was on my mission! It’s all a matter of education. My favorite books as a young person detailed the wonders of natural selection. I studied island biogeography and the amazing path of Australian fauna. I know that I descend (physically) from ancient species (primates – reptiles – fish – invertebrates, with a lot in-between). I am still active in the Church; I believe the scriptures. I will continue believing till I die; but I cannot deny the truth. If other prominent churchmen said that evolution didn’t happen (and I know many did), they were wrong. I find it difficult to balance my knowledge of the truth–I’ve always told my family that I and they only have to believe in things that are true–with the fact that other members are largely ignorant of the history of God’s creations. How sad! And I try not to cause any controversy. I am thrilled to see this scientist use the analogy of the earth as a revelation. I’ve said the same to my own children. We are taught that the earth is evidence of God’s love for us, and that we can grow in our faith in Him through appreciating His creation (the earth). If we, as Mormons, don’t learn to embrace all truth (not necessarily trendy opinions, but actual truth), we are no better than the Muslim conquerors who burned vast libraries because many books contradicted the Koran and those that didn’t weren’t necessary;the Koran was all they needed. My God is not a god of ignorance, and my children will be raised to know that they need never hide their talents because other, less-educated (if sincere) folks lack the same.



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L-d Sus

posted September 21, 2010 at 2:48 am


My kids, spouse, and I all love the “Here Comes Science” Album. We were rockin’ “My Brother the Ape” on the way to church just last week.
I also highly recommend “Here come the 123s.” -Excellent children’s music that parents can also listen too.
(Sorry for the shallow nature of my comment on such a deep post)



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J Paget

posted September 21, 2010 at 8:48 am


Steven Peck embraces the concept of revelation in one paragraph only to dismiss potential revelation in the next. Seems rather convenient.
While I certainly agree that evolution seems like a very logical path and there is scientific evidence to support this possibility, science has been wrong before. We clearly understand and can measure what gravity is, but we have no idea what causes it nor can we reproduce it. Science is not without its changes and revelations.
I’m not sure, but I’d say that until a current prophet comes out in favor of evolution, they are, by default, accepting the repeated statements against evolution.



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J Paget

posted September 21, 2010 at 8:51 am


Just to clarify: My comments were in regards to HUMAN evolution, not evolution in general.



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chris

posted September 21, 2010 at 9:08 am


I studied evolution and support the study of evolution and natural selection, because it’s what the signs point to. And it’s a good learning experience to examine the best explanation for the world around us. However, I’m pretty sure I don’t “believe” in it. I don’t live my life according to it. That’s not to say there is some truth or a whole lot of truth in it.
I don’t understand the fervent desire to create disunity over this issue which does not effect us on a day to day basis other than some (important) study of genetic mutation, etc. But getting worked up over man or ape is a bit silly.
And I think the author really did engage in a bit of intellectual back-patting rather than attempting to stake out and define clear principles for his position. Satisfying for your supporters, but again off putting in hopes of fostering agreement over this issue.
Instead of waving around in front of people’s faces that your grandpa is an ape and drawing clear battle lines in the sand, why not attempt to persuade people why it should be studied from the perspective of whether or not you “believe” or support it.



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Terry

posted September 21, 2010 at 10:01 am


I joined the LDS church 40 years ago (from an evangelical background) and have always been impressed with the church’s attitude toward science. There has always been room for both. I have found that the church simply teaches that even though we are in an age of revelation, we do not know everything about the creation, just the essentials. God simply wants us to use our minds to figure things out. Some things have to be accepted by faith because of the lack of revealed information.
God is the master planner, but uses natural law to accomplish his work. Mormons are taught that the earth was formed in six time periods (not 24 hour days) which could have been millions/billions of years each. The earth was “organized” using existing materials. God took earth’s elements and made bodies after his own image for Adam & Eve (How long did this take? Was evolution part of the process?) When these bodies were ready, he put their spirits into them. When death befalls us our spirits will leave our bodies and return to God and the body will become one with the earth again. There will be a physical resurrection later, but who knows what process that will involve.
It may comfort some to think of the creation as a nice short package that we can watch on a movie screen, or read about in a book, all wrought by divine miracles and instant priesthood direction (that is so Hollywood!). The fact of the matter is we have to have faith that that these things were designed by God, in his own time frame and he has only shared a portion of this knowledge with us. We are here to develop faith, not to have a perfect knowledge. Faith in him is still the most important thing. We probably will find out all the details in heaven.



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Beryl Hughes

posted September 21, 2010 at 10:43 am


The Book of Revelation tells us that the Earth will become a great Urim and Thummim. Many people picture this as the result of the application of intolerable heat; the Earth will melt into glass and everyone will be able to see through it.
I submit that the Earth is already a great Urim and Thummim to geologists and other scientists who are beginning to see the secrets hidden there.



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Geoff B

posted September 21, 2010 at 10:46 am


Evolution is the dicussion of how our physical bodies may have been formed by God. Religion is a discussion of how our physical bodies AND our spirits were put together for our salvation. Evolution has nothing to do with religion.
http://www.millennialstar.org/a-close-reading-of-genesis-could-resolve-many-of-our-biggest-social-issues/



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Dr. Greg Muller

posted September 21, 2010 at 10:48 am


I love evolutionary theory as a THEORY, but not as a fact (as some are want to prematurely take it). I am grateful and patient with scientists as they mull over bones and rocks to fashion this fantastic collective STORY about our genesis, which they call evolutionary theory.
But there is something I love even more than their evolving story. I love the freedom God grants me, as an individual, to create my own stories—to believe whatever I want. And I am the kind of guy who likes to exercise my freedoms fully (and playfully) right up until the buzzer sounds: until the ref (prophet) calls the game and tells us all in plain, simple language the clear TRUTH of the matter.
And so, until our little guessing game is over about this evolution stuff I delightfully take the same liberty I see Steven Peck (and everyone else) taking with evolution (and all the other things) God has left in play (open to theorizing/interpretation).
Until the buzzer sounds I will, like brother Peck, create and spout my own theory/story/belief/guess about the matter.
Here is my theory.
The cool thing is my theory jives perfectly (logically) with brother Peck’s story AND the scriptures (read literally) AND all the wonderful main-stream science.
MY THEORY/STORY. God created a faith-based world for us to live on. It is a world that is not what it appears (to every common sense we have). It was created in such a way that UNcommon senses (spiritual gifts and leaps of faith) are needed to BEST understand and negotiate it(both morally and functionally).
MY THEORY is spelled out in the creation story in Genesis in the Holy Bible, taken literally (yes 7 literal days, not 7,000, 7 million, 7 billion).
Here is the key in reconciling my Bible-based theory with all the other cool theories around now days. God created the earth and all things in a way that it would REQUIRE us to use our UNcommon (spiritual) senses if we were/are to see HIM in its handiwork.
In 7 days he molded all creation to align with (and seemingly agree) with the most advanced scientific story (theory) of our day. He layered the earth (strata) with rocks and bones in such a way that it looks (to the common eyes) like there is no need for God in our stories of creation (as the great scientist Stephen Hawking recently stated).
I can understand perfectly why scientists (if they rely only on their common senses) would guess such a thing. But I, like brother Peck, choose to use my UNcommon senses to embrace a story that makes room for God, the Bible, the prophets…and, oh yea, science too.
So, I’ve got MY story and I’m sticking with it until the buzzer sounds (then I’ll give it up to the ref). And until then, every evolutionary finding by our great scientists (those wonderful story tellers that they are) becomes for me just further confirmation of how careful my Father in heaven was during the creation to align nearly every (common) phenomena and particle with evolutionary theory as we now know it (the best theory going, except one).
I will continue waiting for that buzzer…for more light and truth…but until then, I say let’s play!



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James

posted September 21, 2010 at 11:36 am


Dr Muller:
Thank you for chiming in. I too held a similar belief when I was young when my less educated parents tried to explain the evidence of “God’s word” as recorded in the rocks, trees, and stars. They believed that God had taken whole bits of strata from other worlds and “pasted” them all together. But there is nothing in the Bible nor in the evidence of the earth that could be taken to validly infer such a hypothesis.
Your theory seems to be based solely upon your tenacious will to hold to a relatively new Evangelical doctrine (Protestant) that the Bible must be taken literally in all cases, and is infallible in all cases. I could be wrong, but it just sounds like Biblical infallibility.
s I read and study God’s character in the Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments) I find that his character is inconsistent with a God that makes the earth falsely appear to be billions of years old when it’s only 7 days old. And what of the light we see in the night sky? That light traveled billions of light years to reach us. What of an expanding universe filled with creation? Does create mere illusions for us to study? that have no truth values at all?
To sum this up succinctly, such a theory requires that God created an elaborate hoax and willfully continues to perpetuate a false image of reality.
Are God’s laws merely illusions too? Such a hoax calls into question whether God can be trusted or whether his promises are sure. This theory is entirely inconsistent with the eternal nature of matter, energy, and the laws that sustain the most fundamental constituents of existence, upon which God himself depends for his eternal happiness.
It is no greater leap to believe that Adam’s body was made from a long process of evolution over billions of years than to believe that his body was instantly created perfect out of the dust of the earth.
This simple acceptance allows me to see God’s handiwork in all of his creation – everywhere in the universe as it appears – no hoax required.
And, as a side note, if Adam already had a perfect immortal body, why did it need access to the Tree of Life that was placed in the garden, before the fall?



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Dr. Greg Muller

posted September 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm


James,
Cool theory, yours! I hope your personal story (theory) is keeping you as happy, as mine is keeping me. I hope brother Peck’s is working for him too.
Having a working theory is cool. But anyone’s particular theory (of creation of anything) is not going to work for everyone, in its particulars. And I’m good with that. I celebrate that. I count on that.
Good point you make, but I’m sure your keen enough to know that if I (like you) am gifted enough to take the leap of faith required to believe in God (which I do) I can certainly protect my simple creation story (like you protect yours) until the buzzer sounds. And too, you know full well that I am creative enough to keep my story free and clear of your dire implication: that Heavenly father HAS TO be assigned nefarious motives and means if I am to retain my story.
When it comes to the creation story I like to stick with a simple story, like many of the apostles before did. I adjusted my creation story to make peace, and actually love and understanding too, with modern evolutionary theory.
All that said, I should admit to you that I hold my story lightly, playfully and hopefully. I can give it up, easy…if I want. And I will when the ref (prophet) proclaims the end of guessing (theorizing). But until the buzzer sounds, I like believing what I believe about creation….and who the greatest band in history is (Queen), and the best political party (mine)…and who is the most beautiful woman in the world (my wife)…and a bunch of other important and less important things. I am grateful God grants me such liberty of free thought. I am sure (and celebrate) that you take the same liberties in believing what you believe (creating your own story), even if it may on certain points run counter to mine.
No harm, no foul. Let’s play.



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kevin

posted September 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm


Steven Peck gives a fascinating play on words. However, he should remember that evolution is one theory, with many conflicting opinions within itself, still changing on an annual basis, and definitely not a proven scientific fact.
Whenever the scientific community states something as a theory (the Theory of Evolution), it means it is still up for debate. Unfortunately, in today’s world, the debates are often emotional, and some individuals place too much trust in their own deductions.



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Kendall Grant

posted September 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm


I’ve never been able to reconcile the notion that it all started with two perfectly created humans. To embrace that theory is to also embrace incest. How else would the offspring of Adam and Eve create future generations without inter-familial breeding; father and daughter, brother and sister? And not once, but twice. The great flood came, wiping out all living things other than those on the ark. And we’re to believe that this family inbred yet again as a divine plan? What nonsense it all seems . . .
Perhaps it’s time to again rewrite the Mormon temple ceremony explaining the creation in a believable way? My guess is Steven Peck will be out of a job before that ever happens . . .



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Trevor

posted September 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm


“However, he should remember that evolution is one theory, with many conflicting opinions within itself, still changing on an annual basis, and definitely not a proven scientific fact.
Whenever the scientific community states something as a theory (the Theory of Evolution), it means it is still up for debate”
Good luck finding a life scientist that agrees with this statement. I recommend reading up on the scientific process; it’ll clear up a lot of your misconceptions.



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Raymond Takashi Swenson

posted September 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm


After submitting my comment yesterday, I picked up my mail and found the new issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, with an article by scientist David H. Bailey: “Creationism and Intelligent Design: Scientific and Theological Difficulties”. If you don’t subscribe, you can purchase a copy online. Unlike many scientists who discuss modern Creationism and the Intelligent Design movement, Bailey makes clear that these are different groups with distinct approaches to science. He acknowledges that the scholars who advocate ID accept the consensus picture of the development of the universe since the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago, and of the earth some 4.5 billion years ago, and of the basic veracity of the fossil record. Unfortunately, while he presents conclusions rendered against ID viewpoints in courts and various professional fora, he does not present ID’s best arguments in their critique of radical materialism and of Darwinian evolution as the sole explanation for the diversity of living species.
Doing justice to presenting the evidence and arguments for the modern evolutionary synthesis, and the specific arguments of ID advocates that it is not nearly as powerful an explanation as it is usually asserted to be, would take an entire book. Probably the best effort to do that recently was retired Utah State University Professor Frank Salisbury’s book, The Case for Divine Design.



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Nigel

posted September 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm


Some additional Thoughts:
First: Remember the story of the house on the sand, the water and the fall thereof?
History: The Church (post apostasy) followed the “Scientific” theory of the day (based on observation) that the Earth was the centre of the universe: oops!
Today – we have adaptation and evolution. To me there seems to be absolute evidence for adaptation. We as a church believe in Human Evolution: From intelligence to spiritual beings to mortal beings and on.
I can easily accept evolution within a species. But, evolution between species? ummm?
First challenge is agreement on what we each mean regarding “Species”
Second challenge is what do we understand in the purposes of God?
The scriptures seem to suggest that we are related to all life here on the earth as we are created from the “dust of the earth”. Therefore, the building blocks are similar. Therefore, there will be commonalities between different species. The closer the likeness the greater the commonality. Not proof, but it does help teach us the patterns.
The scripture also seem to suggest that creation was deliberate, with Human Beings (male and female) being like God. This is deliberate and suggests seperate species creation. In our mortal playground we are here to observe, think and have faith.
Third challenge: what is the objective of Evolution as fact over theory. Some would have us believe that there is no need for God. Science becomes religion, scientists the Priesthood and true critical thinking can be abandoned. Remember sand and centre of the universe?
If I forward think – why is science looking for water on other planets? If we could tap into water on another planet, what would we do next? With oxygen and energy and a greater knowledge of DNA/Life what would we then do? Would we determine how the DNA building blocks are assembled? Would we plan (and execute our plan) for life on this planet? We we become as God at the same time as we deny His existance (speaking generally not member wise)?
Okay, it is currently science fiction. And we do not know what we are doing. It would be an experiment. The scriptures tell me that Jesus Christ has created worlds without number and suggest that I have fellow Human Beings on other planets.
So, is evolution that produces many species the centre of the universe and our house on the sand?
If so, expect a radical change in thinking in the years to come. Science has done this often, and with good reason. Religion also went astray and needed a restoration. But, I think Joseph was truely inspired to say; “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24) Truth found in the depths of science and in the heights of religion is in total agreement with itself.
All we have to do is become in total agreement with truth – light and truth – intelligence (D&C 29) and with the Greatest of all the intelligences.



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cosmo

posted September 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm


Mormons believe in the most incredible confabulations, and yet
they outright deny the rigorous and very democratic process of peer review, the absolute consilience of the proofs. Newsflash: There is no debating Evolution Theory among well, anyone who is willing to look at the data objectivly. This is what leads me to the inexcapable conclusion that there is some kind of mind control at work here. Otherwise things just don’t add up.



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John W. Morehead

posted September 21, 2010 at 7:08 pm


I thought Mormons largely accepted evolution since it would seem to fit well within a broader Mormon evolutionary scenario where eternal progression might fit. How might Mormons who accept evolution find an evangelical organization like the BioLogos Foundation that is working through the theological and scientific issues in complementary fashion?



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cosmo

posted September 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm


oh yeah, Belief-net, duh? I usually make a point not to speak to “believers” (of anything)this is no doubt a site for apologists, idiologs, demagouges and assorted intellectual cowards. I was just responding to the article. nevermind….



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Nigel

posted September 22, 2010 at 1:35 am


Hi Cosmo
Open mind, or closed?
My subject is psychology. I watch the pattern of the arguement as it applies the available evidence. I see the weight of opinion, sometimes as a substitute for truth. The “rigourous and democratic process of peer review” is subject to its own weaknesses.
Remember “Piltdown Man”? Proof of the missing link or fraud? It was politically useful to the scientific community of that time to have irrefutable evidence for evolution. The democratic process went to one side and the objectors of the time were squashed by weight of opinion – not truth. Eventually, this evidence was rejected.
Is not science supposed to question the status quo, to find evidence for the null hypothesis? Yet it is suggested that I should bow to peer opinion. The evidence that I have seen for evolution across species is questionable and maintains evolution as theory. It suggests a possiblity, a working hypothesis – it has yet to disprove the null hypothesis.
Why then should I bow to peer pressure? Why should I not remain an independent thinker?
The true weakness of your “scientific” arguement is found in the psychology (belief) expressed in your second statement. It actually strengthens my own position – ooops.
If you read this; keep well, keep learning. Truth is truth, and with honesty, we will both arrive in the same place.
For me truth is the key and will prevail.



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Cap

posted September 22, 2010 at 7:29 am


Great post, Steve! There is always a place for evolution in my heart and I am glad, also to be a Mormon. They are compatible, and the word needs to be spread and understood more. Again, great post!



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E. Klinche

posted September 22, 2010 at 7:38 am


What is true is true. I have faith that Christ created the universe, and that every scientific fact that is true is true.
Whether He formed apes (pre-Simeans) to be human ancestors or do not change my Christian LDS beliefs.



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E. Klinche

posted September 22, 2010 at 7:50 am


Pardon the poor grammar of the first post, I incorrectly edited. But perhaps that example of an imperfect act can furthter illustrate my point. We do not have to have perfect knowledge in order to understand or communicate or act on real feelings and suppositions in both faith and science, of which my beliefs incorporate both.
I have a faith of the certitude of the Book of Mormon, which bolsters my beliefs in Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. Was he perfect? By no means.
Scientific “laws” and theories can change and are fallible, but the basic tenets of the truthes of what really is true is what we act by. Gravity, energy, adaptation and evolution, is true as far as they are true. And faith must be posited in anything in life.
I have faith in certain proven evolution, which is usually empirical, but I also use intuitive faith to see how the Gospel of Jesus Christ works.
I hope this was understandable and well written grammatically. But either way, the message is the same. Just as our beliefs and assumptions in life. We do the best we can with what we got.



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Rob

posted September 22, 2010 at 11:57 am


@ Raymond Takashi Swenson:
I would be interested in links to those talks by Elders Widtsoe and Talmage that you referenced. I have never heard of any member of the Presidency or the Twelve making any evolution-friendly remarks. They did discuss pre-Adamites, but in my mind this is a separate issue.
Thanks!



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Cowboy

posted September 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm


“And Cowboy, The Family: A Proclamation to the World was added to the LDS cannon in 1995. Is that recent enough for you?”
Fifteen years ago? No, that’s really not all that recent. Before that (and many would disagree that the PoF was an addition to the canon) it was 1978, and before that 1918, and before that 1890. This track record doesn’t bode well for Pecks argument that the canon is wide open and amenable to evolution theories from Church scientists.
I should clarify my position here. I think the evidence actually does favor evolution. I just think at the same time, it serves as one more bit of evidence that Church leaders are not “in the know” with God. For Peck the idea of an open canon is a wonderful testament to the Church’s willingness to accept new knowledge. He just fails to recognize that an open canon must still be consistent. If God authors the canon, and leaders Prophets through revelation, we can’t have contradictary positions as science evolves. Science has that right, religion does not when it is packaged in the Mormon context of modern prophets and revelation. Peck ignores the contradictions as matters of culture and opinion, yet enthusiastically grasps at a canon made up of revelations. It comes across more as cherry-picking than objective observations.



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Raymond Takashi Swenson

posted September 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm


Rob: You can find lots of LDS General Authority statements on the web sites of Peck and Bailey. You can also look at the two books with reflective names:
Mormonism and Evolution, by Evenson & Jeffrey, Kofford Books.
and
Evolution and Mormonism, by Meldrum & Stephens, Signature Books.
They provide the history of the fact that the Talmage statement was given in the Tabernacle and published by the Church as a pamphlet, while the Joseph Fielding Smith position in his book, Man: His Origin and Destiny, was specifically NOT endorsed by the First Presidency and the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve. When the book was published, internationally famous chemist Henry Eyring, father of apostle and First Counselor in the First Presidency Henry B. Eyring, who at the time was head of the graduate programs at the University of Utah and also serving on the Sunday School Curriculum Committee for the LDS Church, openly disagreed with Smith’s criticism of evolution. His recent biography, Mormon Scientist: the Life and Faith of Henry Eyring, written by his grandson (an adminstrator at BYU-Idaho) recounts his amicable meeting with Smith in which they agreed to disagree.
Let me add one point. There is NO LDS Church requirement that any member of the Church subscribe to any particular interpretation of Genesis. And there is no evidence in the New Testament that any person was required to affirm a particular interpretation of Genesis before he or she would be accepted for baptism into the
Church of Jesus Christ in the First Century. Subscribing to any particular understanding about the Creation or the Flood is simply NOT a prerequisite to being baptized and confirmed as a Christian or being ultimately saved and accepted by God.
Modern Protestants of some denominations who demand that people must believe their version of Genesis are simply without warrant in the Bible itself, and it goes without saying that also applies to like demands by any Mormon of other Mormons, who accept other books as scripture alongside the Old and New Testaments.
What you think about HOW God created the earth and mankind is totally optional. God has not stated in the Bible or in any other LDS scripture that He tests us on our views of Genesis at any point in mortal life or in the eternities. Faith in Christ is essential to salvation, but faith in any particular understanding of Genesis is NOT. Anyone who claims otherwise is clearly deviating from the Biblical standard of faith and doctrine.



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Raymonf Takashi Swenson

posted September 22, 2010 at 9:52 pm


Another illustration of the point I made above about the optional nature of interpretations of Genesis is in the creeds of traditional Christianity, from the Apostles’ Creed to the Nicene Creed and later variations, which do not demand faith in any particular interpretation of Genesis, beyond the simple affirmation that God is the Creator of the world and of mankind. HOW that was accomplished is not part of the basic statements of belief that have been adopted at various times by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant Churches. Indeed, various denominations have taken diverse attitudes about this question, but amidst all the various disputes that led to dissent, excommunication, inquisition, schism or even war, I am not aware of any of them being based on disagreements over the meaning of Genesis.
You will recall that almost the only instance in which the Catholic Church took action to discipline someone over a scientific disagreement was the punishment placed on Galileo, a faithful Christian, whose daughter was a nun, for promoting the sun-centric cosmology theorized by Nicholas Copernicus, who was a Catholic Church employee in Poland where he administered Church affairs for the local bishop (who was also the local secular authority). The formal adoption by Catholic authorities of the theory of Ptolemy, a pagan scientist of Roman-era Alexandria living about 150 AD, was something that had not happened until hundreds of years after Ptolemy’s death, at a time when it was simply the conventional wisdom of educated Europeans, and without any actual consideration of the alternative theory of a sun-centered universe, which had originally been proposed about 150 BC by Aristarchus, who lived in Alexandria during the reign of the Greek Ptolemy dynasty and was a contemporary of Eratosthenes, who used the different angles of the sun at different locations on the Summer Solstice to accurately calculate the diameter of the indisputably ROUND earth. (Scholars had known the earth was round for over 1500 years before Columbus, who did NOT prove the earth was round, but that he had badly miscalculated the longitude of eastern Asia, expecting it to be where the island of Hispaniola was found.)
Note that Galileo was NOT punished for claiming that God did not create the universe. His disagreement with some bishops was solely over the configuration and operation of the universe that, all agreed, was created by God. Galileo and Copernicus both believes that they were deducing the true nature of the rational universe that god had created and set in motion, with a whole load of astrological portents that were a source of income to Copernicus and most other astronomers of his day.



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Jay Quai

posted September 24, 2010 at 12:37 am


Sorry folks, it IS Mormon doctrine that the earth is only temporal (mortal by cause of the fall) for 7,000 years.
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 77:6, 12
6 Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
12 Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.



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Dwight Rogers

posted September 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm


In addition to Jay Quai’s comments I would also ask what about 2 Nephi 2:22-23 which indicates that no birth or death or change was going on before the fall? Scores of statements repeating this as doctrine exist in conference talks, Priesthood manuals, Relief Society manuals, Sunday school manuals etc… and many of these specify that these conditions apply to all life on the earth, not just Adam and Eve. What about these? And what bout Abraham Ch 3 which clearly defines Kolob time – clearly specifying the length of a Kolob day, and then Ch 4 which describes the planning and carrying out of the days of creation and then there’s the pointed reminder in Abraham 5:13 which reminds us that all of this was done on Kolob time? It seems that everybody who wants to promote long periods of time never address these passages.



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Raymond Takashi Swenson

posted September 24, 2010 at 7:40 pm


2 Nephi 2:19-23 says:
19 And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth.
20 And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.
21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.
22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
All these verses talk about Adam and Even and their descendants. There is no reference to “animals” or “plants”. The only noun that is no explicitly referring to Adam, Eve, their children or humans is the term “all things which were created” in verse 22. However, as that sentence continues, and then goes into the next sentence, the topic “all things which were created” becomes the referent of the pronoun “they”, saying “they” remained in the state in which “they” were created, and “they” remained forever, without end. Then we have the conjunction “And” to begin verse 23, which continues the thought” “They” would have no children, “they” remained innocent, “they” knew no misery, and “they” knew no sin.
Now clearly verse 23 is talking about Adam and Eve, not horses, dogs, parakeets, and gekkos. And since “they” refers to Adam and Eve there, it is also referring to Adam and Eve in Verse 22. and the same is true of all of verses 19-21 as well. The topic here is Adam and Eve, not other living creatures. Therefore, “all things which were created” refers to Adam and Eve.
In doing this reading, we should remember that the Book of Mormon, when it was being translated and dictated by Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery, who was taking it down longhand, was initially written out as a string of words, with almost no punctuation. The periods, like the one at the end of verse 22, were added by a typesetter at the Grandin Print Shop in Palmyra, New York. Furthermore, the division between verses 22 and 23 did not exist for decades. Befroe that, it was just one big paragraph.
So we should be careful in our reading not to insert into the text things that are not there. While we read the pohrase “all tings that were created”, and picture in our mind’s eye one of those symbolic paintings of Adam and Eve naming all of the animals, there is no warrant in the actual verses here to connect the term “all things” to anything other than the people who are the continuing topic of this extended passage.
Frank Salisbury and other Mormon scientists have pointed out the fact that, if Adam was eating fruits in the Garden of Eden, the fruits were “dying”. The term “all things that were created” makes no distinction between plants and animals, so if “all things” were eternal and never dying, then that included plants, which included the fruits of trees, as well as the grasses eaten by herbivores.
This is just plain parsing of an English sentence.
References to the “7,000 years of the earth’s temporal existence” do have a general correspondence to the historical period in which there are written records, and specific information about the passage of time. This particular 7,000 years has to do with the major periods of time that the Book of Revelation summarizes (according to the D&C, the “Four Horsemen” is not a prophecy about a future tribulation, but a summary of conditions in the 4,000 years BC, including the famine that was endemic in the period of Abraham and the Patriarchs.
With respect to Kolob and its time periods, etc., I note that in the Book of Abraham passages that parallel Genesis 1, the word “day” is replaced by “time”, emphasizing the indeterminacy of the duration. Thus, the length of time during the creation is specifically decoupled from any reference to the “day” of Kolob. Furthermore, the entire discussion of the relationship of the earth and sun to Kolob is so obscure and figurative that it is difficult to picture exactly what it really means and how it could correlate to anything in Genesis or modern cosmology and astronomy. Anyone who asserts that it has a specific significance for the elapsed time during the creation process has the burden of proof, because it is definitely NOT obvious to most readers. I have read proposals to link Kolob to exotic objects like the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, based on an attempted correlation between the passages describing its time as “slower” and the time dilation effects of general relativity in intense gravitational fields. Since it takes over 40,000 years for light to travel from there to here, that kind of correlation hardly supports a “quicky” creation scenario.



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Cowboy

posted September 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm


Raymond Takashi Swenson:
You make a good point regarding fruit and plants in the garden of Eden. Still, if we operate under the assumption that all mankind is supposed to be the offspring of Adam, that still rules out human evolution. Still, there are plenty of Church leader quotes which do in fact state that immortality existed through all forms of life. So it begs the question, is the problem our understanding of science or theology? And if it is theology, perhaps the whole of it?
As for the seven seals in the book of Revelation, there is no reason to conclude from Sectio 77, that the seals were just a loose reference to recorded history. It is very specific that the seals each represent an equal one thousand year interval of a total 7000 year temporal existence.
As for Abraham, you are overcomplicating your estimation process.
Abraham 3:4
4 And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.
You are given everything you need to understand what the correlation of time was. One day to Lord was equal to one thousand years according to Abrahams reckoning. This says nothing of changes in the solar system, but makes it simple. Whatever one thousand years was to Abraham, was a day to God. Obviously we have no reason to believe that time has changed, therefore, it is the same for our reckoning of one thousand years. And in fact, both Abraham and D&C 77 are theologically consistent in this regard. It’s just that, they are not empirically consistent with what we are learning about earths history independent of religious influence. So, good Mormon scientists are bending the interpretations to suit the evidence.



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Cowboy

posted September 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm


Raymond Takashi Swenson:
You make a good point regarding fruit and plants in the garden of Eden. Still, if we operate under the assumption that all mankind is supposed to be the offspring of Adam, that still rules out human evolution. Still, there are plenty of Church leader quotes which do in fact state that immortality existed through all forms of life. So it begs the question, is the problem our understanding of science or theology? And if it is theology, perhaps the whole of it?
As for the seven seals in the book of Revelation, there is no reason to conclude from Sectio 77, that the seals were just a loose reference to recorded history. It is very specific that the seals each represent an equal one thousand year interval of a total 7000 year temporal existence.
As for Abraham, you are overcomplicating your estimation process.
Abraham 3:4
4 And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.
You are given everything you need to understand what the correlation of time was. One day to Lord was equal to one thousand years according to Abrahams reckoning. This says nothing of changes in the solar system, but makes it simple. Whatever one thousand years was to Abraham, was a day to God. Obviously we have no reason to believe that time has changed, therefore, it is the same for our reckoning of one thousand years. And in fact, both Abraham and D&C 77 are theologically consistent in this regard. It’s just that, they are not empirically consistent with what we are learning about earths history independent of religious influence. So, good Mormon scientists are bending the interpretations to suit the evidence.



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Allen

posted September 25, 2010 at 6:56 pm


The Book of Abraham teaches that in creating the earth, God organized existing matter, and this implies that he used the laws of nature in that organization. I believe that evolution of mortal organisms (including our mortal bodies) is part of the laws of nature used by God.
Several comments have expressed concern about evolution because they are the offspring of God not of ancestors to the Apes. As a reminder to them, our spirits are the offspring of God. Nothing in the scriptures says or implies that our physical bodies are the offspring of God.
Some comments have brought up the scriptural teaching that there was no death before the Fall. I agree with that interpretation. According to the scriptural view of the creation, the mortal world, and hence death, did not occur until Adam and Eve partook of the fruit. The earth was created as an immortal but physical world before they partook of the fruit. This tells me that evolution does not apply to the creation of the immortal world. I believe that evolution was used by God as one of his uses of natural law in the creation of the mortal world after Adam and Eve partook of the fruit. It is a mistake, I believe, to apply evolution to the creation of an immortal world, as church leaders who object to evolution seem prone to do.



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Knt Huff

posted September 25, 2010 at 11:20 pm


I just came across this article and I can’t let it stand without some comment. I have to make it clear that Steven Peck does not speak for Mormonism, as far as I’m concerned. Without putting too fine a point on it, evolution is riddled with fraud and is itself one of the the biggest and most elaborate frauds that has ever been perpetrated upon the human race. I hope he is not able to convince anyone that most Mormons are so ignorant as to believe this atheist/philosophical/”scientific” fairy tale. I should mention here that atheistic Marxism/communism is both a supporter of the philosophy of atheistic evolution and a competitor for the prize of being the biggest fraud on humanity.
One need not get into some polemical battle about the brilliance of “scientists” and abysmal mental darkness and stupidity of anyone who believes that God had something to do with creation. One can take evolution and show that, on its face, it is hogwash, a complete fairy tale.
Somehow most evolutionists believe that by belittling someone’s god they have proved their science, which of course is complete foolishness, not to mention insulting. (This might put Mr. Peck in a difficult spot at a church university). One might suspect that if people will not accept the power of their logic, they are willing to move to the next stage to impose the logic of power as they seek political power, consistent with their affinity with the Marxist worship of state power.
It is interesting however, that the evolutionists are more likely to talk about theology in their defense of their “science” than they are to talk about the science itself. They might say that is because any Christian is just too stupid to understand any kind of science, but the truth is, they can’t prove a single important statement of their grand theory and philosophy. (They do manage to fool the inattentive with their sleight-of-hand from time to time.) They are the religious fanatics, as far as I’m concerned, believing in the unbelievable more than any Christian.
We have this interesting situation where Darwin said nothing about where life came from, because he believed that spontaneous generation provided millions and billions of new creatures every day out of the dirt, so the only question left to be asked was how did those spontaneously generated creatures turn into other kinds of creatures. Of course today, scientists want to sweep that cornerstone of Darwin’s thinking under any rug they can find, because obviously, there is no such thing as massive spontaneous generation of life. They have to push that single miraculous event back billions of years to an unknown time and place and condition. They can’t prove a single aspect of how that could have happened, and yet they believe in it more strongly than any Christian ever believed in the atonement. It is truly absurd. And then, of course, they berate Christians for not taking this giant leap of faith which they have managed to do, absence even a shred of evidence. What hypocrisy.
My background has mostly to do with logic and mathematics. I studied engineering and mathematics and political science in college. I have two law degrees from a Washington, DC area national law school, and I have spent most of my life doing design and programming on extremely large computer systems. One project required 900 programmers and about $1 billion. So I have at least a small sense for the meaning of logic. And evolution fails miserably on its logic. One would think that you could not have science without logic, but the evolutionists have proven that logic is completely optional for their “science.” Somehow they believe that telling fantastical stories and presenting wild speculations is all that is needed to prove any kind of science. Truly, one must give them credit for great creativity in their storytelling, but let us not for a moment confuse that with hard, experimental science.
Another of their irritating rhetorical tricks is to claim that all of science is based on, and dependent upon, their silly biological theories. About 5% of the teaching positions in the United States are related to the biological sciences, and probably only a small percent of those deal directly with evolution topics. The other 95%+ of the world’s “science” has nothing whatsoever to do with the grandiose claims of these narrowminded, self-centered biologists. Would they please explain to me what aspects of electrical engineering, computer science, nuclear science, etc., base their very fundamental existence on biological evolution of life from the ooze? That is complete nonsense, and an irritating expansion of their pretensions over the whole thinking world.
Of course, in their quest to claim all of science, they wish to claim the social sciences as well. But that is absurd as well. They are typically extremely ignorant of history and law and the “liberal arts” of our species. Their favorite trick is to try to explain every conceivable thing in terms of some hormone or enzyme or physical structure. That is just silliness. They certainly cannot explain even where mind came from. If they cannot explain this most powerful aspect of humanity, except by observing the chirps of ground squirrels, then they are not to be taken seriously.
Have they explained exactly how the periodic table came into being through “biological evolution?” Of course, that all precedes any of their wild-eyed theories about where life may have begun. They have some interesting dogmas, including the “common descent” constraint they place on nature and nature’s God. Here is one version of their “logic:” the astounding miracle of life could only have happened once, and therefore everything must have come from that single event. That is basically a self-defeating “scientific” assertion. They would be far better off to go with the “grass” theory which allows for there being many thousands of independent occasions where life came into being spontaneously. The obvious difficulty with accepting that permutation of their fanatical religion is that they should then be able to much more easily demonstrate spontaneous generation of life now. That they obviously cannot do, so they must therefore push this back into the myths and mysteries of time and rely on religious faith, since they lack any useful science on the topic.
We might notice that they recently discovered DNA — they did not invent it, as they seem to want us to think. And yes, we have learned a great deal about it, but any plausible explanation for its natural occurrence through random events is completely lacking. How do you explain the intensely precise arrangement of 3 billion pieces of information, complete with the equipment to read it, protect it, duplicate it, etc.? They can’t even begin that explanation. In their rhetoric, they take DNA as a given, and just go from there in their arguments about evolution. That is a nice way to assume your answer in your arguments rather than get to the heart of the argument, the evidence of how such an astounding bit of “science” came into being — every living being has a complete blueprint in every cell of its body. When an elegant solution. What biologists would ever have thought of that, or even thought it was possible?
Mr. Peck as apparently invented his own new-age religion, combining together atheism and theism in completely incoherent, self-contradictory ways. The age-old questions about whether there is a God or whether there is a spirit existence beyond the body, he manages to loudly answer yes and no in the same breath. Yes, there is a God who is powerful enough to save us, resurrect our bodies, teach us correct eternal principles, and provide for our eternal well-being as thinking and acting individuals, but, no, that God who controls the universe for some purposes is as weak as a whisper of wind for other purposes such as creating life. In one case he can act in an eyeblink, and in the other case it takes him a trillion years. He could restore our dust to a living body in an instant, and for eternity, but it is unthinkable that he could have assembled life in its original form in the same way. If that is not incoherent, then the word has no meaning.
The only good that I can see coming from today’s vast intellectual and material investment in evolution-based scientific research, is that they do indeed stumble upon interesting scientific information, from time to time. Of course, that would happen anyway, with or without their fanatical evolutionary religion which drives them. In fact, if they weren’t blinded by their own dogmas, they might actually learn a great deal more scientific information in the same period of time. To a large extent, as is typical of all historical scientific paradigms, the current regime wishes to control all scientific thought, and especially all scientific budgets. That means they must crush the upstarts, as has always been done for recorded history. But of course they could never admit any of that. They must always present themselves as the “true supporters of true science” as they act like pettifogging lawyers to maintain their dominance.
What I find most enjoyable is that most of the information developed by the scientists either directly disproves their fantastical theories of evolution, or at least makes it infinitely harder to maintain their fairy tales in the face of the hard facts. Two of their more rigorous experiments and studies have shown that it takes somewhere between one million years and 3 million years for there to be even the tiniest measurable change to take place in a creature. But of course they simply ignore their own findings in that case. Not wishing to accept any constraints on the wonderfully creative concept of evolution they have invented, they imagine that any creature can be invented out of anything in just a few thousand years. I find it both hilarious and ironic that most of them have developed their own version of the “young earth” theory. Any sensible mathematician would tell them that it would take one million trillion years to accomplish the biological changes they claim happened in a geological eyeblink. But they wave that aside, because they prefer to believe in the marvelous creative powers and even omniscience of randomness, however silly that may be to even say. To put it simply, we have nothing in our everyday lives, in the world around us, that confirms their grand theories. But lack of proof has never stopped them in the past. That is the definition of a fanatical true believer, it seems to me. They love to say that evolution is as real as gravity, but can never supply the proof.



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SteveP

posted September 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm


Here are my recommendations for learning something about the evidences for evolution:
http://sciencebysteve.net/?p=773



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Raymond Takashi Swenson

posted September 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm


To Cowboy and others who believe they know the true meaning of the scriptures (Genesis and the LDS scriptures) and that it clearly supports Young Earth Creationism–I would like to point out, again, that despite knowing the scriptures just as well as all of us, the First Presidency and Apostles leading the church have NOT, as a body, taught that we should embrace the notion that the earth is only a few thousand years old, and it is clear from the quotes offered above that Brigham Young and others like James Talmage have seen no problem with an earth that is millions and millions of years old. Asserting that you know more than the prophets and apostles did about these doctrinal topics is a step on the high road toward apostasy and rebellion, just as much as the claims by various polygamous groups that they have special knowledge from God that is not vouchsafed to the legitimate leaders of the LDS Church.
After all, Mormons are explicitly taught that God is eternal, and that our own spirits are also eternal, and that matter-energy are eternal. The Book of Moses and D&C Section 76 are explicit about God having created uncountable inhabited worlds, including many BEFORE this earth, so creation clearly was going on way before 13,000 years ago. Once we understand that, the reason for insisting on a speedy creation of the earth just evaporates. Mormons should not forget that our belief in multiple inhabited worlds, something taught by Joseph Smith, was and still is heretical for many Christians, just as it was at the time when another advocate of that idea, Giordano Bruno, was executed.
Since Mormon belief is that animals and plants did not “sin” and do not have to exercise faith in order to be “saved”, it is not at all clear theologically why it is important to have immortal animals before Adam’s Fall and mortal animals afterward. Descriptions of a peaceable animal kingdom during the Millenium, after the Resurrection of the Just, don’t depend on the animals being resurrected and immortal, but on mankind abandoning its enmity toward animal life.
I am far less concerned with Mormon youth being persuaded by the neo-Darwinian Synthesis to adopt materialism than I am that an insistence by other Mormons that those youth should reject the mass of scientific knowledge and can only be Truly Mormon if they adopt the Fundamentalist Christian speculations of young Earth Creationism. In a contest between obvious truth and speculative religion, the religion will lose out, and young people will be propelled by that false dichotomy out of the Church. Contrary to what some advoicates of Young Earth Creationism insist upon, I find many Mormons who are actively engaged in living faithful lives and who are accepted by inspired leaders for responsible leadership positions in the LDS Church who have NOT bought into the false dichotomy between YEC and materialism.
It seems to me that people who want to make belief in YEC into a 14th Article of Faith for Mormons are actually undermining the faith of many Mormons and committing the sin of the Jews of Jerusalem in 600 BC, of “looking beyond the mark” to create requirements for salvation that God himself does not require.
This does not mean that I accept Darwin’s theory of random mutation and natural selection as a sufficient explanation of all of life’s diversity. The fact is that biologists today see much of that diversity being driven by simple genetic drift, and by the expression of developmental genes that came into existence very early in the history of life, even among the common ancestors of animals and arthropods, rather than being generated rapidly in more recent eras in repeated instances of “parallel” or “convergent evolution”, terms that describe but do not explain.
Exactly how evolution created such powerful adaptive mechanisms so early in the history of life raises the bar of the level of early rapid creativity that evolution has to explain, in an inverse of the common assumption that the cumulative creativity of evolution would become greater with time.
And as others have pointed out, the greatest question about life, its origin, is not in any way addressed by evolution, which has nothing to say about how inanimate matter can transition into the most basic, yet incredibly complex, living cell, with a DNA computer program that matches precisely with the structure and mechanisms of the living cell. We have only come to appreciate in recent years how difficult it is for intelligent humans to write even simple computer programs that will function without crashing (I worked as a programmer for two years). How exactly did inanimate matter (not even as smart as a million monkeys) accomplish that feat? Not a single attempt to explain it has been able to move beyond the purest speculation and huge explanatory gaps, and none merits the dignity to even be called a theory. Even if you accept evolution working the miracle of diversification of species, the only thing we know that could bring a living cell into being is an intelligence at least on a par with our own. It is pure egotism to insist that it was impossible for an intelligence of that magnitude to have preceded us. Indeed, in the world of speculative fiction, the idea of an Elder Race of space faring aliens is a commonplace. Given the 9 billion years that elapsed before life on earth began, how can scientifically informed people rationally rule out such an agent as a potential cause of life on earth?



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George Robinson

posted September 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm


I have made a long hobby of trying to figure out how to get evolutionists and religionists to stop fighting. I don’t think that’s possible, but here are my best thoughts on the subject:
1. I don’t care whether you believe in evolution or Biblical creationism. The important thing to know is that evolution does not prove that God does not exist. Nothing in, of, or from the natural world can prove that God does not exist. The only possible source for the idea that something can prove that God does not exist must be coming from God’s adversary. Therefore, do not adopt or defend this idea. It is a trap! It’s only objective is to destroy belief in God.
2. God has enough power, intelligence, creativity, and artistic sense to create a natural world from entirely natural causes. To suggest otherwise is insulting. Therefore, do not be afraid of considering natural explanations. They reveal the mind of God as much as the scriptures.
3. Religion must be based on faith in God, hope for a better world here and hereafter, and charity for our fellow person. Religion cannot be based on scientific facts. Scientific facts change too quickly. Proponents of creation science and intelligent design won’t think they are included in “scientific facts,” but they are. After all, they also lay claim to the term “science,” and present their ideas as facts. Their theories about word usage and meaning in the Bible are also “theories” just like the theories of the natural sciences.
4. Our universe is infinitely elegant! Witness the number represented by the Greek letter pi. This elegance has continued to manifest itself since the dawn of creation. You can see this in action by catching a snowflake crystallizing from a winter’s sky, and realizing all that has happened to make that possible.
Agnostic scientists and faithful religionists have to agree that there is an organizing force or intelligence that underlies all that happens in the universe. “E=MC squared” is a familiar example of this organization. The only real argument is whether that organizing force or intelligence is ultimately personal and sentient.
Now, the really amazing thing is that beings who are sentient and personal have appeared in this universe. What does that say about that organizing force or intelligence governing our universe? Even more amazing, these sentient and personal beings appreciate a snowflake’s beauty, and they are making good progress towards understanding the organization of the universe.
Even more amazing, these sentient and personal beings are learning how to control this organization, even to the extent of reprogramming their own organization.
What will be the end result of an organizing force or intelligence that can intelligently reprogram itself? Will there be anything beyond its power, its knowledge or awareness?
Now if this can happen in the future, then in the multiverse scope of things, it already has!
Religion is simply lays the ground rules for how we can become admitted to the company of such beings.



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Cowboy

posted September 30, 2010 at 11:25 am


Raymond:
You misunderstand if you think that I am advocating young earth creationism. I’m not. I’m just pointing out that the scriptures do, ie, section 77 and Abraham 3. I think they are wrong, but it was taught. There were of course those like James E. Talmage who represented a greater voice of reason, but his reason came by way of his training as a geologist – not as a “revelation-getter”. Conversely, men like Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith argued by way of theology, completely ignorant of scientific discovery. Again, not a great example for revelation, particularly considering the fact that Joseph Fielding Smith was a Prophet. Church endorsed or not, he was supposed to be God-endorsed. Brigham Youngs quote, is not in favor of evolution, but he argues that we (humans) are all of the same unaltered species since Adam, and if we could see past the veil we would recognize that we are of the same species as God, except he is heavenly and we are earthly. So there is little concensus among Church leaders (those guys who talk to God), therefor good Church-fearing scientists take it upon themselves to protect the image of their religion by reinterpreting the theology to make it consistent with contemporary understanding – yet the scriptures still stand, and they say the earth has a 7,000 year temporal existence. Open canons and ongoing revelation, etc, do not give license to reinterpretation. When the Prophets are wrong, we argue that they were just products of their culture. At the same time, we insist that they are led by revelation. Which is it?
As for apostasy, if I haven’t made that clear by now, I am not headed there – I am there. Now that it is clear, feel free to dismiss my argument on account of my disbelief.



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George Robinson

posted September 30, 2010 at 10:08 pm


Please see my 9-29 post.
Cowboy’s concern over the differing opinions of church authorities shows why it is a trap to be drawn into an argument about evolution versus religion. There should be no relgious significance accorded to the apparent disagreement between the Bible and modern science.
(Let’s not forget: prophets are called to help us with our relationship to God and each other. They are not called to be scientists.)
By the way, I have never seen anyone give a time duration to the event in Genesis 2:6. Was this a morning event, or a 4 billion year period of time? To me, this verse is enough to shelve any disagreement between relgion and evolution.
I’m sure there will be disagreement about the interpretation of this verse. That being the case, why is there any hope of settling the dispute? Again:
There should be no relgious significance accorded to the apparent disagreement between the Bible and modern science. It is a trap to think otherwise!



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Cowboy

posted October 1, 2010 at 10:06 am


I will make a final comment and withdraw -
“(Let’s not forget: prophets are called to help us with our relationship to God and each other. They are not called to be scientists.)”
Things would have been simpler had religion and science started on the NOMA foot, as per Stephen Jay Gould. Unfortunately, the Christian and Jewish canon start on the theological base of creation, ie, the earth and its inhabitants. From there it moves to an alleged world-wide flood, and then to the miracles of Moses. It would have been nice for religion to just start with mans relationship to God, but it didn’t. And for these reasons NOMA will never work, because it would require religion to regress from its starting point, Genesis. We can debate over the literal interpretation of these things, and still salavage a bit from a broad Christian standpoint. Introduce Mormonism and its concept of Prophets, revelation, and new scripture, and interpretations get even more complicated. Particularly when these new scriptures add new dynamics to our conception of solar systems and time. While it may be argued that Abraham and Section 77 do not address the time periods of creation, ie, what is a day. In broader appeal the length of time relating to a day according to God’s reckoning is addressed in Abraham proceeded by an account of the creation.



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trey

posted October 1, 2010 at 12:35 pm


existence of God disproved……. $ 1.00
existence of God proved………. $ 1.50
benevolent God………………. $ 2.00



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Cowboy

posted October 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm


Did you catch Elder Christoffersons slight jab at evolution?



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Sachairi

posted October 10, 2010 at 5:43 pm


I think it’s important to remember that if you believe that the Bible is true (assuming the Mormons use the same book as Christians) then why would you pick and choose what you think is true? Either God is lying, or he isn’t.
Genesis is the foundation of our faith. In the Hebrew language, there is no indication that God’s “days” are anything more than what Scripture says they are- 24 hour periods. “…there was evening and morning, THE first day”
‘THE’ is an absolute word. How many first, second, third, and so on, for the Creation week- days is there in history?
Not only that, but you’re also calling Jesus a liar when you make claims for your evolution religion. Jesus quoted the Old Testament numerous times. So either Jesus was telling the truth, was a liar, or he was stupid.
Evolution needs to stop claiming itself as ‘science’. It’s as much of a religious belief as the beliefs I have. So we all came from non living material 3 billion years ago. We managed to come alive and slither our way onto land, and as time goes by, we’ll continue to get bigger and smarter and stronger and one day we’ll travel the universe, like Star Trek.
There hasn’t been a single transitional fossil ever found. The ones they thought were transitioning all turned out to be frauds, like Lucy and Piltdown man. (A bunch of others besides)
Did you know that our moon was moving away from us, little by little, every year? That means, that one time, it was CLOSER. Millions of years ago, the moon would have been whizzing directly above the earth! I guess the dinosaurs died from getting mooned? (Ignoring the massive tidal waves the moon would make, being that close) Did you know that the moon is shrinking? How big would it have been, billions of years ago?
And what about the Earth slowing down? In June, they have to have a ‘leap second’ every once in a while to account for this. This means that the Earth was rotating faster once. Millions of years ago, you would’ve barely had time to blink, night would be so fast! Day would also be over instantaneously.
What about these constant discoveries of human footprints with dinosaurs? Intricate golden bells inside lumps of coal, apparently formed millions of years before humans evolved?
Believing in this evolution religion takes a lot more faith than I possess, frankly. You guys have fun with that. The only difference between our religions is that yours is tax funded.
Some informative links:
http://www.drdino.com
http://www.answersingenesis.org
http://www.arrivalofthefittest.com
http://www.3bible.com



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Rich Alger

posted October 16, 2010 at 10:37 am


S.Faux said , “I recently told my High Priests group that, ‘Some of us like to fish, and others like to think we evolved from fish.’ They laughed. I saw that as progress.”
This is so funny because Mormons believe much more in “right practice” rather than “right belief”. I am not sure about evolution. I am becoming more open to how God created us. In the end it will matter infinitely more what I have become through the grace and power of God than how creation happened.
http://richalger.blogspot.com/2009/07/orthopraxy-over-orthodoxy.html
Happy fishing!



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Lawrence Wood

posted February 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm


Very nice insight into the great evolutionary debate



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Jeanette

posted April 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm


I’m in the general Biology class offered at BYU this very semester. Last week we had the evolution discussion, which was presented as the evolutionary theory. We briefly discussed Intelligent Design, but only as the opposing view to evolution. The majority of students in my class accepted that evolution was clearly science and that it does fit perfectly with Mormonism. I don’t see the mass denial of evolution that supposedly exists within the church, but I suppose it could be there outside of my own peer group.



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Pingback: Mormonism and Evolution | Progressive Mormon!

Anson Service

posted November 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm


Thank you for your article. I have been scolded by members of the church and my bishop for my knowledge of evolution, and for the life of me I do not understand why they DONT know anything about evolution. The only comment I have that may or may not be necessary is that from what I understand from fairly recent research is that we did not descend from our modern ape or monkey, but rather are a different strain of evolution all together. Maybe this was in the details of what you didn’t say. When looking at the moneys at the zoo, no we did not evolve from them, but our early ancestors may have been similar in many ways. Anyway, thanks and keep it up.
Anson L. Service



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Pingback: “FAIR Conversations,” Episode 12: Steven L. Peck on Evolution (part 1 of 2) | FAIR Blog

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Kevin

posted November 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm


Some of my fellow Saints really seem to have a hard time distinguishing between the process of creating a mortal tabernacle and the eternal nature of our spirits.

Forget worrying about sharing a common structure with apes (which we do), you should go even further back and understand the very Biblical notion that we were created from dust. It just took a long time for the dust of the earth to be refined to the point where God was satisfied it was in His image and he could place the spirits of His children in them.



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Ellery

posted December 18, 2011 at 4:17 am


“Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.” – Brigham Young

I can only assume people would find this belief idiotic at this point…but I am at a loss as to why god would allow the prophet of the church to say such a racist thing? Why wasnt it the prophets of god that were most active in moving the zeitguist of race forward….rather it was non-mormon black civil rights leaders that fought tooth and nail to cause progress….and during the 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s, the prophets continued to oppose stopping their policy based on what? Why was the policy there in the first place? Why was it changed as of 1978?

Black people being black has no meaning beyond just that, they have a different skin tone…..you would think that the prophets would be ahead of the zeitguist at times, but it seems they are constantly some many steps behind…

Homosexuality being the next front that everyone will have to accept one day….the culture will change, and indeed the theology and policies will be forced to change as well…..



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Allen Lambert

posted February 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm


I just saw this (2/6/12) so my reply is late. Nevertheless ….

Why Mormons Should Embrace Evolution: BYU Biology Professor Steven Peck

TAL reply to Peck:

PECK:
“I am a Mormon. And an ape.”

TAL:
Mixing categories for comparison. Mormon is a socio-cultural category whereas ape is a biological one.
In what ways is Peck an ape? AND – equally important – in what ways is he NOT an ape? Humans have a long list of characteristics virtually unique to them, and unlike various expls of apes, e.g., chimps, gibbons, orangutans, etc.
What is an ape? And a clade, family, species, etc? Depending on level of abstraction, humans share some characteristics with chimps, etc., but not other characteristics. So it is a socially constructed decision to classify creatures like Peck, me, and Jesus as apes. (This is not to argue that classificatory schemes are not useful.) Just as whales are classified as like humans rather than like fish. It depends on the criteria for classification and purpose thereof.
The point is to indicate that there are substantial issues in philosophy and social science underlying Peck’s claim, issues that are contested.

PECK:
“Evolution by natural selection is the most important scientific discovery of modern times ….”

TAL:
Few physicists, or engineers, would agree that Darwinian evolution is “the most important ….” Important measured how and by what criteria? We can all see the effects of great theoretical and empirical advances in physical sciences and engineering – from planes to PCs. In contrast, articulation of the theory of natural selection has had little impact on daily living. (Selective breeding preceded Darwinian theory by millennia.)

PECK:
“The evidences for it [Darwinian evolution] are staggeringly abundant, detailed, and scientifically undeniable.”

TAL:
That kind of statement is ideological, even religious, not scientific.
The first problem is decomposing the meaning of “evolution” into separable parts. Evolution is used in many ways, most of which have nothing to do with natural selection or common descent or other elements essential and specific to Darwinian theory of relatedness and modification of all “living” things. Thus, geological changes over thousands and millions of years are not properly called evolution and associated with Darwinianism. Ditto presumed expansion of the universe, also often referred to as evolution. (And this ignores the latest in cosmology and string theory with its 11 dimensions, parallel universes, etc., and radical implications for the “standard model”.)

Darwinian evolution also has separable parts, with different degrees of evidence for each. Thus, what is often called “microevolution” – both natural and intentional (designed) changes due to environmental (and human) selection — can be observed in real time. Whether and to what degree such kind of evolution represents the same type and mechanisms as found in the development of cells into whole organisms, or in differences between plants and animals, or in differences between slugs and lions, etc., or all the differences between mankind as presently constituted and chimps (let alone frogs) has not been well established empirically. The evidence for this “macroevolution” is decidedly mixed and limited.
The biggest problem, however, is with the “origin of life”, etc. Despite 80 + years of theorizing and research, no existing explanation has been found satisfactory. Indeed, Freeman Dyson (among others) has shown that no known physical processes could produce the hypothesized transition from physical chemistry of initial conditions of earth to biochemistry of life. Thus, common descent cannot be traced to some beginning (in fact, it has not been empirically demonstrated very far back in the generations of life forms).
Another problem is “materialism”. What is meant by materialism in Mormonism (by Orson Pratt and other speculators) is NOT identical with the meaning in science and philosophy. Joseph Smith explicitly included an extra dimension, a spiritual one, with its own existence and epistemology, in his notion of matter and development. Science and philosophy explicitly exclude such.
And this raises the whole problem of defining “life”. Is it reducible to the presence of certain chemical processes and activity? And is the life of a cell or of a cactus the same in all essential aspects as those which make a modern human what s/he is and can become?
Of course, to critically analyze Darwinian theory and its evidence is NOT equivalent to promoting any particular alternative, especially theological interpretations of creation. For example, there is no basis for interpreting the Genesis creation account as taking place in six 24-hour periods or for denying that God could have relied primarily on natural processes over very long periods of time. Nor are some form of evolution with natural selection and of special creation necessarily incompatible. For me, intelligent design, i.e., Divine initiative and intervention at various points in an evolutionary process, makes sense. As does (partial or complete) separation of the origin of modern mankind from apes and arachnids. We do not know much about how the Lord does His thing. Humility about the theological is as justified as humility about the larger claims of Darwinian evolution.



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Heather

posted May 9, 2012 at 8:43 am


If evolution is “modern revelation,” then why didn’t that revelation come over the pulpit from the prophet?
Why did the First presidency come out with “The Origin of Man” in 1909? And if it is antiquated doctrine, why was it reprinted in the Ensign in 2002?
Why did Elder Russel M. Nelson say in April 2012 that the Big Bang didn’t happen?
In 1974 Elder Ezra Taft Benson in a speech at BYU said: “The faculty and student body (of BYU) should know the Book of Mormon better than any other book. Not only should we know what history and faith-promoting stories it contains, but we should also understand its teachings. If we really did our homework and approached the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we could expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men, including socialism, humanism, organic evolution, and others.
I have noted within the Church the difference in discernment, in insight, in conviction, and in spirit between those who know and love the Book of Mormon and those who do not. That book is a great sifter.” Why do you think he said that? Why do you think he referred to organic evolution as a false theory and philosophy of men? Why does he and other apostles, refer to it as a falsehood in several other general conference talks? (Verify at http://scriptures.byu.edu/ by typing in evolution, then Darwin.)
Just a few things to think about.
What is your definition of evolution? Variation within a species (or micro-evolution) is a fact, but variation from one species into another (organic evolution) has never been seen or proven. If there is overwhelming evidence of this kind of evolution (macro-evolution), why don’t you present it and collect the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been offered on many, many creation websites?



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Kevin

posted December 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm


The church has never, not once, officially declared evolution as false-doctrine. The statement by the first presidency after the Talmage/BH Roberts vs. Joseph Fielding Smith specifically stated that neither side could be taken for official doctine. That means that even though Joseph Fielding Smith condemned the idea in Doctrines of Salvation and Bruce R McConkie (his son-in-law) backed him up in “mormon doctrine”, those are simply their opinions, whatever their ecclesiastical status was at the time. As Joseph Smith himself stated, “a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as one”, meaning if the prophet wishes to declare doctrine, he´ll manifest it in an official statement from the first presidency. That´s never happened since the 1930 statement saying that evolution does no go against church doctrine. That being the case, it´s important to note that while many earlier leaders supported evolution to a degree, not one has ever taken it as far as to suggest that man came from the ape.



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Kevin

posted December 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm


Adding to that, Heather, while the quotes you mentioned are authentic, there are also plenty of quotes supporting evolution by big names like Orsan Hyde, Elder Widstoe, Elder Talmage, BH Roberts, President David O McKay, etc. The statement by the first presidency that you mentioned only declared that man did not come from an ape, but not that evolution doesn´t exist. All this difference of opinion is perfectly acceptable because, as the first presidency declared to resolve the original conflict, it is not a principal doctrine of the church.



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Mike

posted February 2, 2013 at 9:59 am


Compatibility with religion is not the point.

The point is – does the theory of evolution have any quantifiable evidence in its favor?
Darwin says maybe but expresses reservation.
Dembski and Berlinski say, decidedly not.
No experimental evidence exists which supports any principle of evolution.
No developmental pathway exists for any species to have evolved into any other.



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steve a.

posted March 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm


evolution and mormonism are not compatible. either god created adam from dust or he didn’t. either god created eve from adams rib or he didn’t. that account in genesis is in NO WAY compatible with the idea that man evolved from single celled organisms over billions of years.plus, according to the bible the earth is only about 6,000 years old. Joseph smith also said the original printing of the book of mormon was “perfect” and did not need revising. If you want to say you disagree with a literal interpretation then say that. if you want to say you only believe in some parts of the bible but not others say that, but the mormon church doesn’t. And if you don’t believe in certain things, then how can you believe in any of it. if part of the bible is untrue, then its not of perfect or of god, in which case how can we know any of it is true? If god wanted to create humanity, Why would god create the earth(assuming you believe he did, and disagree with science and astronomy/cosmology) 4 or 5 billion years ago (what he was doing for eternity before that i dont know) and use evolution to slowly get to that goal? why wouldnt he just create it all at once like it says in the bible? also in order to believe god created the world AND man evolved from evolution, you would contradict everything evolution stands for. It would mean god knew human would evolve, and WANTED them to evolve, which means it wasnt chance and natural selection, it was god’s selection. and why would you believe evolution made man, but god (who made us in his image) is eternal, meaning he didnt evolve but just always existed. What about Noah and the flood? if you believe all those species existed at the time of the flood, how did they all fit on the ark? or, if you believe in the “type” theory that says he only brought 2 of each ‘type’ of animal, how did they have time to evolve into their present forms? and from what we know about natural selection, evolution, and genes why didnt those animals born with deformities when the children of the 2 animals mated with each other, or their parents? the same with adam and eve, cain and abel. (if you believe in them) This is why the churches suppress scientific knowledge , especially evolution, because it is NOT compatible with the bible, and makes people question their faith, and thus the church and the religion itself.



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steve a.

posted March 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm


LOL! did anyone else see the advertisement on the side for the book “mormonism for dummies”? why is that a book? MORMONISM is mormonism for dummies.



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Pingback: Adam och Eva, evolution och 4000 år fKr | Mormonlady & friends - Saved by grace not by works

Kevin Y

posted March 21, 2014 at 3:00 am


Some nice insights. I think it is important to acknowledge how much the science has also evolved since the time of Darwin (although Darwin is shown again and again to have been spot on!). Like Lynn Margulis, I think cooperation may be a stronger evolutionary force than competition, and perhaps hybridization has led to speciation more often than isolation. Time (and newly acquired knowledge) will tell!



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vanboy

posted March 29, 2014 at 8:55 pm


Even within the year Twenty Hundred Twelve I’m smitten with the Oldsmobile Golden Rocket. I’m able to only picture the wow element this car must presented in early 1956 (when I had been occurring 3 ages old.)



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