Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to mix LDS theology and human evolution

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that man is a dual being, with a body and a spirit, and that man is a child of God. None of this is based on science, in fact it contradicts science.

Boyd K. Packer: "Secular doctrine holds that man is not a child of God, but basically an animal, his behavior inescapably controlled by natural impulse, exempt from moral judgments and unaccountable for moral conduct." (Ensign Nov. 1986.)

Boyd K. Packer: "No idea has been more destructive of happiness, no philosophy has produced more sorrow, more heartbreak and mischief; no idea has done more to destroy the family than the idea that we are not the offspring of God, only advanced animals, compelled to yield to every carnal urge." (Ensign, May 1992; see also Ensign, Jan 2005.)

These ideas, that man is basically an animal and that humans are only advanced animals, are both scientifically correct. But these ideas deny that "there is a spirit in man" (Job 32:8) and that "we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).

In order to harmonize evolutionary science with LDS theology, some people claim knowledge that is superior to science and superior to religion. In other words, their harmony is achieved by modifying both science and theology. Consider the reasoning of BYU Biologist Steven L. Peck:

"Since Homo sapiens appeared about 200,000 years ago, the first spirit child of God must have been placed in one of these human bodies long after the bodies appearance on the Earth. The first man was the first time a spirit child of God was placed in one of these bodies."

This is not science and it is definitely not LDS theology.

So how do you mix LDS theology and human evolution? Simply modify them both until they comfortably merge. Unfortunately, after that happens you no longer have either LDS theology or science.

Bruce R. McConkie said it this way: "There is no harmony between the [unmodified] truths of revealed religion and the [unmodified] theories of organic evolution."


Blogger R. Gary said...

     to talk or write at length in a confused or inconsequential way.

Let no one be confused by current intellectual ramblings in the bloggernacle:

James E. Talmage: "It is peculiar to the theology of the Latter-day Saints that we regard the body as an essential part of the soul." (General Conference, Oct. 1913; as quoted in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2002.)

Joseph F. Smith: "Every missionary should strive to devote part of each day to study and prayerful thought on the principles of the gospel and the theology of the Church." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 1998.)

James E. Faust: "Why is the Book of Mormon the keystone of our religion? Because it is central to our history and theology." (Ensign, Jan. 1996.)

8/02/2014 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot find the source, but there's a well known quote on how one should not go to the critics of the church to find the church's teachings.
Similarly, I would not go to the critics of evolution to attempt to explain evolution.

8/02/2014 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Anonymous: Your logic doesn't impress me. The Church says Satan is the enemy of all righteousness, but since the Church is a critic of Satan, that may or may not be true.

I don't buy it.

"Just as the waters were purest at the mountain source; the purest word of God, and that least apt to be polluted, is that which comes from the lips of the living prophets who are set up to guide Israel in our own day and time." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee.)

8/02/2014 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Sicut: Your comment has been published (click here). I have just two thoughts at this time.

1. Eight years ago, there was lengthy discussion on this blog about the April 1910 Improvement Era comment you cite (click here). There is no evidence that the 1910 comment was published with Joseph F. Smith's approval and there is substantial evidence that it was not. Apparently, Joseph F. Smith's thinking on the subject is (to you) irrelevant.

2. Nine years ago, there was a lengthy discussion on the Mormons and Evolution blog about Jesus being the only begotten in the flesh (click here). Your comment sidesteps the fact that today's prophets and apostles are authorized to interpret and expand on what is in the standard works.

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts.

8/07/2014 03:36:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Sicut: Your comment has been published (click here). But note that, in a formal 1909 statement, Joseph F. Smith's First Presidency did, in point of fact, rule out the possibility for evolutionary origins of Adam's body, and among the apostles and prophets since then, there has been vocal support for that interpretation of the 1909 statement.

Furthermore, no Church President and no apostle is on record in official LDS media questioning or clarifying Joseph F. Smith's 1909 First Presidency statement regarding the "Origin of Man." As a matter of fact, that same 1909 statement has been republished by the Church twice in this century.

8/20/2014 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Sicut: Your current comment has been appended to your comment from four days ago.


God says: "Hearken to the words of my servants the prophets." (Jer. 26;5.)

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the verse which says: "Hearken to the words of letters to the editor and anonymous comments if they appear in Church magazines, even if they disagree with what the prophets teach."


Years ago a reader wrote to the Ensign as follows: "I saw the letter in the December Ensign on chocolate. No doubt some well-intentioned Saints will now feel that the Church is against chocolate since the letter appeared in the Ensign."

The Ensign responded: "The information was relayed so that the readership could make of it whatever their individual consciences desired."


Similarly, Joseph F. Smith, as editor of the Improvement Era wrote: "It may be well to remind our readers that the Era is not responsible for the individual views or opinions expressed by contributors to its columns." (Editor's Table, Dec. 1915.) The April 1910 anonymous comment appeared in just such a column.


Meanwhile, at BYU in April 1910, three instructors were teaching "theories on evolution as applied to the origin of man" along the lines of the April 1910 Priesthood Quorums' Table statement that "the mortal bodies of man [may have] evolved in natural processes to present perfection."

Upon investigation, it was discovered that whenever such ideas were found to be in conflict with scripture, "it required the modification of the latter to come into harmony with the former." When the investigation concluded, President Joseph F. Smith announced in the Improvement Era that it had been decided such ideas would no longer be taught at BYU by these instructors because: "Teachers in a Church school ... could not be given opportunity to inculcate theories that were out of harmony with the recognized doctrines of the Church, and hence that they be required to refrain from so doing."

These events strongly support the conclusion that the April 1910 anonymous comment does not represent the thinking of Joseph F. Smith.

8/24/2014 11:37:00 PM  

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