Saturday, December 29, 2007

LDS Seminary and Elder Callister's "intelligent designer"

The Church's seminary program is currently using material from a 1934 seminary manual to teach about a "designing intelligence."  The three paragraphs below are from the Old Testament Student Study Guide (English approval October 2002, p. 12).  This manual is used every four years by another 200,000 LDS seminary students.

Some people believe that the earth was created by chance and that mankind came about by the accidental combining of the right elements over millions of years. In response, one writer said:

"When you can dump a load of bricks on a corner lot, and let me watch them arrange themselves into a house—when you can empty a handful of springs and wheels and screws on my desk, and let me see them gather themselves into a watch—it will [then] be easier for me to believe that all these thousands of worlds could have been created, balanced, and set in motion in their several orbits, all without any designing intelligence at all.

"Moreover, if there is no intelligence in the universe, then the universe created something greater than itself—for it created you and me" (Bruce Barton in E. Ernest Bramwell, comp. Old Testament Lessons [1934 seminary course], 4).

In the Jan. 2008 Ensign, Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Seventy teaches that "the passage of time, even long intervals of time, is not a 'cause' and provides no answers without an intelligent designer."  ("Our God Truly Is God," Ensign, Jan. 2008, p.67.)

Elder Callister's words "intelligent designer" refer to a Creator God and not the Intelligent Design movement led by the Discovery Institute.  Elder Callister's "intelligent designer" is none other than the "designing intelligence" discussed in LDS seminary classes since at least 1934.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ensign v Darwin in 2008

"That the eye with all its inimitable contrivances ... could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest sense."  (Charles Darwin, as quoted by Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Seventy in "Our God Truly Is God," Ensign, Jan. 2008, p.65.)

Darwin doesn't think it is absurd

Notice that Darwin doesn't say it is absurd, only that it seems absurd.  In fact, some feel the above sentence misrepresents Darwin on this point.  Indeed, when one reads the entire paragraph it becomes clear that Darwin was merely adding emphasis to his conclusion later in the same paragraph that:

"The difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory." (As quoted online at "Bartleby.com.")

Elder Callister and the Ensign do think it is absurd

For Latter-day Saints, however, the important thing is that Elder Callister obviously believes it is absurd to think that the eye could have been formed by natural selection.  Furthermore, Church Correlation and the Ensign editorial staff found Elder Callister's views acceptable for publication.

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