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Friday, October 08, 2010

Over at MormonTimes, Orson Scott Card misrepresents Mormons on evolution

"We don't know the Lord's time" is Orson Scott Card's current MormonTimes contribution on the subject of Mormons and evolution (click here).  Unfortunately, some of what Card attributes to the LDS Church is inaccurate and the result is a distorted view of what the Church currently teaches about evolution.

INACCURACY NUMBER ONE

Card cites a 1931 First Presidency statement on evolution:

"Here is the statement of the First Presidency from 1931, partly in response to years of controversy that had divided the brethren in sometimes-public debate:

" ' Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed.  Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world.  Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.'

"This statement was repeated in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry on evolution."

This 1931 passage is not from any published First Presidency statement, past or present.  It has never been printed in any official Church magazine or lesson manual.  It comes from an internal memo that was not about evolution and not the result of any debate about evolution.

The memo was addressed to LDS general authorities.  It summarizes the lengthy evaluation of a priesthood manual submitted in 1928 by Elder B. H. Roberts, a Seventy.  After two and a half years, the 1931 memo announces the Church's decision to reject the manual.

William E. Evenson, who wrote the Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry on evolution, has since admitted publicly that the opinions of Roberts were "not those of an evolutionist" and the discussions "were not centered on the scientific theories of origins of life forms."  (William E. Evenson, "Science: The Universe, Creation, and Evolution," in B. H. Roberts, The Truth, The Way, The Life [2nd edition, Provo: BYU Studies, 1996], p.645.)

Evenson further acknowledges that the Roberts book "addresses three forms of evolutionary theory [and] finds all three ... to be inadequate."  (Ibid.)  Evenson concedes that Roberts "rejects all [1930s evolutionary] theories as he understands them [and] puts forward his own theory" to reconcile the scriptures with the fossil record.  (Ibid.)

In an effort to bolster his own theory about fossil evidence for death before Adam's fall, Roberts marshaled the latest conclusions of geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology.  The decision of the 1931 First Presidency was that neither the Roberts theory nor the theories of science belonged in a priesthood manual.

If the 1931 quotation has any meaning for our day, it is that we as Church members should not try to make the gospel fit scientific theories.  Either way, there simply was no 1931 First Presidency statement on evolution.

INACCURACY NUMBER TWO

It is very misleading in terms of what the LDS Church currently teaches for Card to say that:

"There have been prophets, seers and revelators who accepted the notion of geological time."

Only for a few years during the first half of the last century did two (of 97) apostles openly question the long-standing LDS belief in a paradisiacal Creation with no death before Adam's fall.

Today, there is consensus among the First Presidency and Twelve regarding the Creation as evidenced by what they say in current official magazine and LDS.org articles and in what they have approved as Church teachings in seminary, institute, and ward lesson manuals, as well as in the Bible Dictionary and Guide to the Scriptures.

INACCURACY NUMBER THREE

The most egregious error in the article is Card's claim that:

"There have been prophets, seers and revelators who accepted ... the use of natural processes in creating human beings."

That statement is utterly false.

Let me ask a simple question (open to all LDS evolutionists): Where and when has the LDS Church published a single apostolic statement endorsing the idea that organic evolution explains the origin of man?

38 Comments:

Blogger Clean Cut said...

I think in your zealousness on this issue, Gary, you actually make the Church look worse, not better.

(Of course, whether or not we should care about appearances is another topic altogether).

10/08/2010 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

...look worse to whom?

10/08/2010 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous SteveP said...

"Where and when has the LDS Church published a single apostolic statement endorsing the idea that organic evolution explains the origin of man?"

Is the equivalent of asking, "Where and when has the LDS Church published a single apostolic statement endorsing the idea that quantum mechanics explains the distribution of electrons around an atom?

One cannot infer that they have taken a scientific stance by the absence of positive evidence. We are never required to follow the general authorities in their opinions. You keep confusing prophets with popes. They are the infallible ones. We make no such claims for our leaders.

10/08/2010 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

SteveP, I'm visiting my neighbor and he wants to remind you that the only atom they usually talk about is the one who lived in the garden with Eve.

Seriously, I suppose if apostles talked as often about quantum mechanics and atoms as they do about the origin of man your point might have some validity. However, I agree with you that we are never required to follow the apostles in their opinions. Even when their opinions are published in official LDS media, we are free to disregard them. What we may NOT do, of course, is assert our own opinions as the position of the Church.

10/08/2010 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

I think you are being overly critical.

Inaccuracy #1: The problem here is that everything in the quote from Card is true. I guess you can quibble over whether the 1931 memo can be called a "statement," but it certainly was "in response to years of controversy that had divided the brethren in sometimes-public debate," and it was repeated in the EoM article on evolution--at the direction of President Hinckley, I might add. Whether it properly belongs there is irrelevant to Card's point.

The great bulk of Card's essay is about time, not evolution, and his use of the statement--memo, whatever--is in the context of time and death before the Garden of Eden, which matches the context of the controversy that brought forth the memo.

Inaccuracy #2: This turns on what Card means by "geological time." The Church has no position on the age of the earth, which I'm sure you know. The vast time scales of "geological time" are allowed by the interpretation of such leaders as Elders Nelson and McConkie. The connection to NDBF is your inference, probably because of the word "geological." But even if your inference is correct, the statement is not inaccurate. At best (for your position) it is outdated.

Inaccuracy #3 is your strongest point. However, Card simply asserted that there have been Church leaders that accepted "the use of natural processes in creating human beings." Your challenge regarding a statement published by the LDS Church has merit for your general position, but it does not render Card inaccurate.

10/09/2010 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous E said...

Gary, I think what you do not see is that you have an entire blog devoted to misrepresenting the church's position on evolution and creation. Card is correct that the church does not have one official position on how God created the earth or anything on it. You are entitled to your views but they are not the official position of the church.

10/09/2010 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

.

Jared*, always glad to hear from you. And I'm delighted to have the opportunity to respond to the issues you raise.

INACCURACY NUMBER ONE

You claim the 1931 excerpt was used "at the direction" of Hinckley. Did Hinckley also tell Evenson to say that in 1931 there was "intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution"?

According to the Salt Lake Tribune (July 2, 2005), Hinckley "supplied" the 1931 excerpt "to be used in the encyclopedia." This agrees with the 1992 First Presidency, speaking as members of the BYU Board of Trustees, in their introduction letter to the BYU Evolution Packet, where we're told that the First Presidency "authorized" use of the 1931 excerpt. I'm just not seeing where anyone "told him" to use it as the official position of the Church on evolution.

Anyway, Evenson took the ball and ran with it, fabricating a false meaning for the excerpt with this fiction:

-------------- quote --------------
"In 1931, when there was intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution, the First Presidency ... addressed all of the General Authorities of the Church on the matter."
-------------- end quote --------------

Card's article is, according to his first few paragraphs, about "creation with evolution and natural geological processes as the likely method." The first reference to "time" in text of the article is in conncection with "the notion of geological time and the use of natural processes in creating human beings."

If he didn't know the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article was seriously flawed, he should have. Either way, his use of it promotes an inaccuracy.

INACCURACY NUMBER TWO

The length of the creation days is not the issue here, it is the quality of life during those days. The creation was terrestrial — paradisiacal — without death. Card mocks this idea by saying his friend thinks Church members are "simply not in tune with the gospel" unless they accept a creation with "no death of animals before the eating of the fruit in the Garden."

The connection to NDBF is Card's, not mine. Geological time in the context of Card's article includes much more than duration.

Latter-day apostles who have discussed it, including Elders Nelson and McConkie, all vigorously affirm a paradisiacal creation with no death on this earth before the fall of Adam. All, that is, except the two previously mentioned. And for the most recent 60 years, as evidenced by what they say in official LDS media, the latter-day apostles — First Presidency and Twelve — have spoken with a single united voice on the subject: The creation was paradisiacal. There was no mortality. Death for all forms of life began when Adam fell.

INACCURACY NUMBER THREE

In the process of informing his friend about "the official position of the church," Card asserts:

-------------- quote --------------
"There have been prophets, seers and revelators who accepted ... the use of natural processes in creating human beings."
-------------- end quote --------------

My challenge regarding a statement published by the LDS Church does in fact render Card inaccurate.

10/09/2010 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

.

E

The LDS Church does in fact have an official position on evolution. And it is entirely proper for me, or you, or anyone else to quote it in an article at MormonTimes, on a blog, or in a Sunday meeting.

Unfortunately, Orson Scott Card, opted to quote the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article about Evolution (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992, vol. 2, p. 478) written by William E. Evenson.

10/09/2010 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I was just reading Nibley's Book of Mormon class transcripts, where he quotes Brigham Young to the effect that our Adam was not the first of that name and that the replenishment of the earth was literally a replenishment.

I'm not sure Nibley is that much of a heretic.

10/09/2010 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Clean Cut vs. R. Gary

(Normally I include my name on posts, but for various reasons I am trying to keep myself anonymous for this one.)

It makes it look worse to biomedical professionals like me, for whom, if the doctrine had to be interpreted as strictly as you do, honesty and integrity would demand that I abandon either my faith or my profession.

As you point out, it IS that important because of how much the origin of man is discussed by GAs.

It took 5 years of grad school and much soul searching to find reconciliation and not destroy my marriage and family by rejecting my faith, all the time while serving in the bishopric.

Even if you are right, how many will be persuaded by your very public and unreasonable intractability and therefore suffer temporal pain and eternal consequences much greater than those that might be the result keeping covenants while maintaining supposedly incorrect beliefs?

I would rather be wrong about this and keep all that is good and beautiful about the Church and my family than throw myself into the abyss.

10/09/2010 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

Way to go, Gary. A very lucid and well constructed argument.

Dave C, PhD
Science & Theology Author,
BYU Instructor,
Research Statistician,
Author of several peer-reviewed scientific journal articles

10/09/2010 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Geoff J said...

It must be frustrating for to be constantly swimming upstream on this topic Gary.

Well maybe if you are right and all those other Mormons are wrong you can gloat about it in the afterlife.

10/09/2010 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Anonymous Re: Clean Cut vs. R. Gary

I have no quarrel with individuals who believe that man came by evolution, preceded by millions of years of death on this earth.

What bothers me is the occasional LDS evolutionist who tries to establish those ideas as teachings of the LDS Church. It bothers me especially when that effort includes painting a false picture of one of the Lord's apostles.

I am a member too, and I have nine children and 36 grandchildren. And it is a big deal to me when individuals try to influence my posterity wrongly about Church leaders.

It took me more than 30 years to reconcile my faith with Duane Jeffery's article, "Seers, Savants, and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface" in Dialogue 8 (Autumn-Winter 1973, pp.41-75), and during that time I held Church callings also (elders president, high councilor, stake clerk, etc.). That's why I started publishing on the web six years ago. And that's why I host this blog.

The Church can't hide every teaching that offends someone. That would lead to doctrinal chaos. It's not my job to decide what should be taught. But when the Church has already made that decision, I have no problem correcting those who, for whatever reason, misrepresent what the Church teaches.

It sounds to me like you would have greatly appreciated Henry Eyring (1901–1981), father of our current President Eyring. Apparently, the senior Henry Eyring disagreed with Joseph Fielding Smith regarding evolution and death before the fall. The two once met and talked about Smith's book, Man, His Origin and Destiny. Brother Eyring's later comment about that famous conversation has always impressed me and maybe I should have skipped the rest and just quoted Henry Eyring. He said:

"I would say that I sustained Brother Smith as my Church leader one hundred percent. I think he was a great man. He had a different background and training on this issue. Maybe he was right. I think he was right on most things and if you followed him, he would get you into the Celestial Kingdom—maybe the hard way, but he would get you there." (as quoted by Edward W. Kimball in Dialogue 8 [Autumn-Winter 1973], pp.102-103.)

P.S. Don't jump. I'm sure we agree on most aspects of the gospel. Keep your family. Keep your faith. We can deal with the rest later.

10/09/2010 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

Are you saying that Evenson duped the Brethren into approving the EoM entry? Evenson has described his involvement several times and he is clear that his article was composed with feedback and approval from Church leaders.

You write, "I'm just not seeing where anyone "told him" to use it as the official position of the Church on evolution." Yes, it is inaccurate, historically speaking, but the fact remains that the sentiment it expresses won approval. I can't imagine that the Brethren reviewing the article felt boxed in by Evenson's reading of history--"Oh, that was about evolution? OK, if you say so Brother Evenson."--I would think that if they felt the article was too permissive toward evolution, they would have made a change. It certainly wasn't Evenson's decision to have the Church distribute the article to people inquiring of the Church's position on evolution, and the final word on it's inclusion in the BYU packet did not rest with him either.

(It's worth noting, BTW, that when all of this occurred, TWL still had not been published. Perhaps that accounts for some of the confusion.)

I recognize that the EoM article represents an anomaly in the narrative you have built, and perhaps you are right to view it as such. But it's existence and use by the Church isn't Card's fault. Another inconvenient anomaly is that the 1931 memo rejected NDBF. I understand that you think that developments since then render that judgment moot, but again, its existence is not Card's fault.

Back to your third point: You are a stickler for drawing distinctions between the private views of Church leaders and official Church teachings. Card did not claim that official Church teachings accept "the use of natural processes in creating human beings." He referenced unspecified individuals. He might have been thinking of David O. McKay, Stephen L. Richards (both of whom displayed an open mind about it), or someone else whose comments have not been made public. After he laid out the official Church position he wrote, "Besides..." and then made the offending statement. It seems to me that he was making a secondary supporting point and the accuracy of his statement depends on whether such persons exist, not whether the LDS Church publications you ask for exist.

Respectfully, as always.

10/09/2010 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger S.Faux said...

A scientist studies nature, and has to be prepared to let nature tell her or him what to believe. Such is the moral oath of science. The scientist has to be guided by data, not by preconceptions.

So, I am convinced that the Church understands this about science. Otherwise, I would think they would insist that evolution NOT be taught at BYU, where I learned much on the topic.

Therefore, I am grateful that the Church gives the LDS scientific community the leeway to be guided by the data.

I am happy to study Adam & Eve on Sundays, as given in our LDS manuals, and I am happy to study hominid skulls from an evolutionary perspective the rest of the week.

To me, there is considerable harmony, but I understand that evolution is controversial to others.

But, eventually, theology must concede that our earth is NOT the center of this solar system, and I think other concessions will be necessary too. Time will tell.

Thanks, R. Gary... you make me think.

10/09/2010 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared*,

As far as I can tell, all of your original comment posted. If the pieces I deleted contained anything not already posted above, please let me know.

10/09/2010 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared*,

Regarding: "In 1931, when there was intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution, the First Presidency ... addressed all of the General Authorities of the Church on the matter." (William Evenson, Encyclopedia of Mormonism evolution article.)

This says the First Presidency was talking about evolution and I am saying that is false, as in not true.

Unfortunately, Evenson's false statement colors the 1931 passage and makes it appear that the First Presidency was instructing general authorities not to criticize the conclusions of science. This was Duane Jeffery's view in his 1973 Dialogue article where he painted Joseph Fielding Smith as a rebel for disobeying those instructions.

When viewed in its correct context, the 1931 passage says something quite different, namely that the theories of science don't belong in a priesthood manual and, by extension, shouldn't be used to interpret the words of the prophets.

The sentence about "intense discussion" is false, no matter who looked at it or when. The Brethren were not approving "the position of the Church." They were being given the opportunity to have input on something written by a scholar (not a prophet) and published in New York (not Salt Lake). No approval should be implied; this is made clear in the Encyclopedia Preface.

I am unwilling to believe that President Hinckley saw this as an opportunity to make a new rule about whether or not general authorities should be allowed to criticize the conclusions of science. And I don't believe he recognized the fallacy of Evenson's statement.

Distribution of the 1931 passage in private letters has been done without the false "intense discussion" statement, leaving the correct meaning of the passage obvious.

Heber J. Grant's 1931 memo did not "reject NDBF," but merely pointed out that NDBF is not an official doctrine of the Church. I myself have pointed out the same thing many times on this blog.

10/09/2010 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared*,

The Church does have an official position on evolution. It is identified as such by the 1992 First Presidency, speaking as members of the BYU Board of Trustees, in their letter of introduction to the BYU Evolution Packet. It was most recently published by the Church in the February 2002 Ensign. This formal First Presidency statement (found on pages 26-30) is prefaced as follows:

-------------- quote --------------
"In the early 1900s, questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution became the subject of much public discussion. In the midst of these controversies, the First Presidency issued the following in 1909, which expresses the Church’s doctrinal position on these matters."
-------------- end quote --------------

Now look on page 80, "Making the Most of This issue," where the 1909 First Presidency statement is promoted using this question:

-------------- quote --------------
"Ever wondered about the Church's official teachings on the creation of mankind and evolution?"
-------------- end quote --------------

These are not unauthorized claims, sneaked in by a copy editor. The Church does have an official position on evolution.

But Card's article doesn't even mention this official statement evolution. Instead, he says "the official position of the church is that the Lord has not told us how he created either human beings or the Earth." True, but misleading. What Card neglected to tell his readers was that the Lord, through his authorized servants, has told us how he *didn't* create the earth and man. And I dispute Card's claim that those authorized servants are offset by other authorized servants who say the opposite.

Okay. Yes, I am a stickler for drawing distinctions between private opinions and teachings published in official Church media. I've never criticized anyone for making that same careful distinction. Can you tell me how it would work? How would private opinions trump official Church media?

10/09/2010 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

.

Stephen, Brother Nibley is one of my favorite scholars.

.

Dave C., thanks for your encouragement.

.

Geoff J., swimming upstream or with the current seems to depend on where I am. I get a little of both these days.

.

S.Faux, I value your opinion. As far as I know, you don't assert it as anything more than it is — the opinion of a well educated scientist. You remind me of President Eyring's father.

10/09/2010 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

I've just learned there is a 4,096 character limit in comments. So I will break this in two.

This says the First Presidency was talking about evolution and I am saying that is false, as in not true.

I agree with you.

Unfortunately, Evenson's false statement colors the 1931 passage and makes it appear that the First Presidency was instructing general authorities not to criticize the conclusions of science....When viewed in its correct context, the 1931 passage says...that the theories of science don't belong in a priesthood manual and, by extension, shouldn't be used to interpret the words of the prophets.

Those are not mutally exclusive interpretations, and I think there is merit to both of them. Perhaps we will just have to disagree on this, but when the memo warns the General Authorities to be careful what they say because people will take their word as doctrine, and then says to leave the sciences alone because they are peripheral to their calling, I see some legitimacy to the first interpretation. Having said that, I'm not convinced that Joseph Fielding Smith was a rebel because the memo ultimately didn't have teeth to it. Let me use an analogy. Sometimes parents lay down the law, particularly in an acute situation, but then fail to enforce it or show that they care about it after the crisis is over. Gradually the parents and the kids forget about the incident. The kids then resume some of their former behaviors, but it doesn't bother the parents enough to make a big deal out of it. That's similar to how I view the 1931 memo. After things had settled down for a while, science became a topic of discussion again with Joseph Fielding Smith, but also in the Improvement Era, and life went on.

They were being given the opportunity to have input on something written by a scholar (not a prophet) and published in New York (not Salt Lake).

According to Evenson, his article went through several drafts of increasing length based on input from Noel Reynolds, and Elders Oaks and Maxwell. His was one of a "very few" EoM articles considered by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, along with a more anti-evolutionary modification of his article, written by someone else. It was they (the Brethren, but particularly President Hinckley) who determined that the article should be short and include the 1931 statement. That's some significant input, in my view.

No approval should be implied; this is made clear in the Encyclopedia Preface.

They saw fit to include it in the BYU Packet. Look, I'm not arguing that the EoM article should be the only document when considering the Church's position on evolution. But given the large editorial role of the Brethren and its inclusion in the BYU packet, I think it is unfair to criticize Card for quoting from it.

I am unwilling to believe that President Hinckley saw this as an opportunity to make a new rule...

I don't see it as a rule. I see it as encouragement to avoid controversy and contention. (That ship has sailed!) :)

10/09/2010 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Heber J. Grant's 1931 memo did not "reject NDBF," but merely pointed out that NDBF is not an official doctrine of the Church.

I agree, I just worded it poorly. Neither was accepted--both were rejected--it's all the same to me.

But Card's article doesn't even mention this official [1909] statement [on] evolution.

OK, I think that is a legitimate criticism.

the Lord, through his authorized servants, has told us how he *didn't* create the earth and man.

I disagree, but I'll leave it at that.

Can you tell me how it would work? How would private opinions trump official Church media?

I'm not saying they trump it. As I read him, Card's point is that the diversity of views on these issues by Church members is OK. You can reject NDBF, or accept evolution, and still be in line with the gospel, by which I think he means you can still be in good standing with the Church and the Lord. In other words, Card is saying that if you are going to condemn a man for such views, then you will also have to condemn some Church leaders as well.

In summary, while you may have legitimate criticisms to make about whether Card accurately captures current Church teachings and positions, I don't think the three examples of inaccuracies were, in fact, inaccurate.

Whew. Now I have to do the dishes.

10/09/2010 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Dear Jared*,

Jared. Jared. For more than five years, it's been painfully obvious that you and I view these things differently. What can I say? I've always valued and respected your well reasoned opinion. Yet still we disagree. With you I have no problem. I just wish we could spend some time together face to face someday.

Your friend, Gary

10/09/2010 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

I would like that, too. I doubt I will be visiting Utah anytime soon (not because I don't want to), but maybe someday.

10/09/2010 09:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that no member should misrepresent what the Prophet and/or First Presidency has said on evolution -- or anything else. That said, I take personal comfort in knowing that nothing they say means that the Theory of Evolution is not true (or at least as true as a scientific theory can be).

10/10/2010 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

That, of course, isn't exactly what I said, but I do wish you the best.

10/10/2010 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

R. Gary: You should spend more time reading about the rock-solid scientific evidence of evolution, and less time quoting LDS leaders. Is it possible that they could have been wrong or uninformed on this issue? Your obsession on the issue of evolution being contrary to the gospel is strange. "Thou dost protest too much."

10/10/2010 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Josh, to repeat what I said above, I have no quarrel with individuals who believe that man came by evolution, preceded by millions of years of death on this earth. My frustration is with the LDS evolutionist who claims those ideas are teachings of my Church. THAT is my motivation on this blog. So go ahead. Study all that "rock-solid" evidence. (The pun, I suppose, was intended.) Just don't preach it as gospel truth.

10/10/2010 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

R. Gary: As others have pointed out to you, I think you are doing the Church a disservice by pointing out (correctly) that the LDS leaders HAVE spoken against evolution. What the LDS church usually does when LDS leaders say something untrue, is stop saying it, or say it in a different way as to make it less obviously false.

But you keep shining a blaring spotlight on this subject. This was one of the first issues that lead me to leave the Church. The argument goes like this:

1. Evolution is true
2. LDS leaders teach that evolution is false
3. Therefore, LDS leaders teach things that are false

You probably disagree with premise 1. But here you would be wrong. This is why I encourage you do read a science book, instead of quoting LDS leaders on the subject. LDS evolutionists (who have reconciled the above argument) try to deny premise 2. But you seem to have devoted your blog (and much of your spare time) to showing premise 2 is correct. And if someone accepts premise 1 and 2, then the conclusion is obvious. I don't think this is very faith promoting. Hence - I don't know what you are trying to achieve.

10/11/2010 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Josh, the Savior and His Church can save your soul, science can't do that. Look to the future as well as the past.

One of the most science friendly apostles of this dispensation has promised:

"It is decreed that this earth shall become a celestialized, glorified sphere; such is the revealed world. Science has nothing to say on the matter; it can neither refute nor prove. But the Lord, even God, hath spoken it — and so shall it be! Amen." (James E. Talmage, "The Earth and Man," 1931, p.14.)

10/11/2010 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

I'd be interested if you had something to say about my actual point, instead of ignoring it, and then preaching about the state of my soul in the future.

10/11/2010 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Josh, for 180 years there has been a steady stream of statements from authorized Church leaders — First Presidency and Twelve — that say there was no death before the fall. And every apostle of this dispensation, in statements published by the Church, agrees that man did NOT come to earth in the posterity of the brute creation.

I don't know why you think it is within my power to turn it off.

You can ignore those statements if you wish. Many do.

What you cannot do (and expect me to keep silent) is what Orson Scott Card did last week at MormonTimes. You cannot portray falsely that the Church teaches death before the fall or the creation of man by evolution.

Note: I believe it is NOT terribly wrong to believe in evolution (click here to see my new post on this). But you cannot promote falsehoods about the Church's teachings on evolution. I find that abhorrent and I will usually respond. Hence this blog.

10/11/2010 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

Take it easy there. I agree with you that the Church has not taught there could be death before the fall. You are correct in your assessment of what LDS leaders taught. But that doesn't mean they are right just because they taught it (they are as incorrect on the matter as New Earth Creationists are on the age of the earth). But you are right in pointing out what LDS leaders taught and still teach.

I was referring to my point I made in my previous comment.

10/11/2010 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Josh, I hope you'll forgive me. Apparently, I just can't see your "actual point." Can you help me out here, please?

10/11/2010 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Rob said...

I think Josh is saying that spending so much time shining a light on counterfactual claims about the history of life on this earth made by church leaders for 180 years is not faith promoting.

10/11/2010 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Dr. Rob,

Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has said this about members shining a light on the truth about what the Church teaches:

"The challenge is that there are too many people participating in conversations about the Church for our Church personnel to converse with and respond to individually. We cannot answer every question, satisfy every inquiry, and respond to every inaccuracy that exists."

For that reason, Elder Ballard has invited Church members to "join the conversation by participating on the Internet."

"We cannot stand on the sidelines," he said, "while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches."

Counterfactual or not, the claims of the apostles for the past 180 years about the history of life on this earth is "what the Church teaches."

10/11/2010 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Josh, my "metric of truth" (as you call it) is current official LDS media. Write that down and don't forget it. And we're talking here about what the Church now teaches, not what exists only in the past.

10/11/2010 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The snippet from the article:

Here is the statement of the First Presidency from 1931, partly in response to years of controversy that had divided the brethren in sometimes-public debate:

"Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church."

This statement was repeated in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry on evolution, along with these words: "Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes … 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 (Doctrine and Covenants 101:32-33)."

Card could have been clearer, but I understood him to say that the sentences you point out were from the Encyclopedia, not the FPM.

Andrew H.

10/20/2010 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Andrew H.

The statement is, as you say, "from" the Encyclopedia. It is not an official First Presidency statement.

10/20/2010 01:58:00 AM  

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