Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Orson Scott Card fabricates a First Presidency message

In his MormonTimes column this week, Orson Scott Card fabricates what he calls "the First Presidency message on the Creation." Be aware, if you read Card's article, that no First Presidency has ever issued a statement containing these words:

"The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again" (click here).

Not that there's a problem with those words, but it is very misleading to pass them off as being the words of an LDS First Presidency. And it is also misleading not to mention in this context that the First Presidency has in fact said how God did NOT create man.


Blogger R. Gary said...

Andrew H.

I moved your comment over here where it belongs.

Here is the snippet from this week's MormonTimes article:

-------------- quote --------------
Yet we expect to understand all things eventually, as the First Presidency message on the Creation made clear: "The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again."
-------------- end quote --------------

There was no "First Presidency message on the Creation" and the words ostensibly quoted from that imaginary statement are not found in any actual, legitimate First Presidency statement.

Card is at his best this week. He is writing fiction.

10/20/2010 02:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Proud Daugther of Eve said...

Newsflash! A human made an error! Really, how can he ever show his face again?

You can point out his error without assuming any ill intent on his part, you know. He probably just mixed up a couple of ideas.

10/20/2010 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Proud Daughter of Eve: Individuals speaking informally and off-the-cuff in conversation are clearly entitled to make such mistakes. An award winning author writing for MormonTimes is expected to be more careful. And that brings up another question: Where were the MormonTimes editors? Shouldn't at least someone check the accuracy of things prior to publication?

10/20/2010 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

By the way, Card's current article is a continuation of the one from the week before which contained several misleading statements (click here). It doesn't matter to me whether Card himself is being misled by someone else or whether Card is intentionally trying to mislead Mormons. Either way it doesn't belong in a MormonTimes article.

10/20/2010 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Doug Towers:

Your thoughts about how man was created are similar to my own. But for you, as for me, they are just thoughts. The official word of the Lord is that we don't know. More specifically, "man" (as in mankind) doesn't know. In the Church's formal First Presidency statement on the subject, the word "man" doesn't refer to the Church or its leaders. The word "man" means all of us — mankind in general — including you and me:

"Man, by searching, cannot find out God. Never, unaided, will he discover the truth about the beginning of human life. The Lord must reveal Himself or remain unrevealed; and the same is true of the facts relating to the origin of Adam's race — God alone can reveal them." (First Presidency, Ensign, Feb 2002, p.30.)

That official statement has not been rescinded.

10/21/2010 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The quote is from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism's Evolution article.

12/27/2010 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

I know that. You know that. The question is: Where were the MormonTimes fact checkers and editors?

12/27/2010 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is possible he received it when asking for the church's position: http://eyring.hplx.net/Eyring/faq/evolution/FPLetter.html

I know you reject the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article, but there it is.

12/27/2010 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Orson Card didn't say he was quoting a personal letter sent by the First Presidency. He said he was quoting "the First Presidency message on the Creation." And by the way, posting private letters on the internet doesn't magically change them into official First Presidency messages.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism was published by Macmillan Publishing Company in New York. The Evolution article was written by William E. Evenson, a BYU Physics professor. The introduction to the BYU Evolution Packet (click here) puts the Encyclopedia article in proper perspective.

Find the page in the BYU Evolution Packet dated "October, 1992," at the top and "Approved by the BYU Board of Trustees, June, 1992" at the bottom. The 1992 First Presidency were Chairman and Vice Chairmen of the BYU Board of Trustees. This page is the official introduction to the Packet. It describes the Packet's contents.

The page has three paragraphs.

The first paragraph says the Packet contains all known statements issued by the First Presidency on science, evolution, and the origin of man. The known statements are listed. There are three: Nov. 1909, Dec. 1910, and Sep. 1925. This paragraph then affirms that, although there are no statements about the evolution of other species, "these documents make clear the official position of the Church regarding the origin of man." Indeed, the page is titled "Evolution and the Origin of Man."

The second paragraph states that the Packet also contains the Encyclopedia Evolution article and that the First Presidency authorized using the 1931 excerpt in the Encyclopedia article. Although LDS evolutionists like to read the excerpt as: Let scientists decide how science affects the gospel, there isn't any evidence to support that interpretation. I believe that authorized use of the 1931 excerpt (whether in private letters or in the BYU Evolution Packet) carries with it the historical meaning: Don't use science to interpret the gospel.

The third paragraph emphasizes that "formal statements by the First Presidency are the definitive source of official Church positions." This explains why the Encyclopedia Evolution article is not among the formal statements listed in the first paragraph. By extension, it also says the Encyclopedia Evolution article is not an official Church position.

The Church doesn’t use physics professors and New York publishers to announce its position on anything. Permission given to Macmillan Publishing Company to use the 1931 excerpt in its Encyclopedia was not an endorsement of Professor Evenson’s utterly ridiculous claim that "there was intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution." That statement is false. The article is flawed. And First Presidency messages for the general membership of the Church are found in official Church media.

12/27/2010 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Tim, I've posted your comment and my response. Click here to read it.

12/30/2010 10:25:00 PM  

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