Sunday, March 30, 2008

New Church web site and March Ensign both affirm the divine, as opposed to evolutionary, origin of man (part two)

In the March 2008 Ensign and on the new Church web site, Elder Russell M. Nelson expresses admiration for the complexity of the human body and its divine creation:

"My long road to become a doctor of medicine was only the beginning.  After that came years of hospital work, research, specialty training, and certifying examinations.  Then followed many years of teaching, service, and the challenges of the newly emerging field of open-heart surgery, all of which brought me to a profound reverence for the structure and function of the human body.  I was convinced that its creation was divine."  ("Faith in Jesus Christ," Ensign, Mar 2008, pp.24–30; see also the Church's new Web site about Jesus Christ.)

Elder Nelson's current article is reminiscent of a speech he gave 21 years ago.  ("The Magnificence of Man," BYU Speeches, March 29, 1987; published in New Era, Oct 1987, p.44 and Ensign, Jan 1988, p.64.)

Both the current article and the 1987 speech review briefly what happens at conception and both talk about early child development.  Both discuss the formation of a tiny heart at 22 days, blood circulation at 26 days, and the formation of eyes, ears, and fingers.  Both examine several distinctive features of the eyes, ears, and heart.  Both emphasize the protection provided by paired organs and the two routes of blood supply that protect single organs.  Both point out that pain protects against injury and antibodies protect against infection.  Both highlight the body's ability to repair and renew itself.  Both cite the body's ability to regulate temperature and control the level of essential elements and constituents.

All of this leads Elder Nelson (then and now) to the conclusion that the body was created by God in the image of God and he cites scripture to support this conclusion.  In the earlier talk, Elder Nelson expressed the following as a natural corollary to his belief in man's divine origin:

"I believe all of those scriptures that pertain to the creation of man.  But the decision to believe is a spiritual one, not made solely by an understanding of things physical, for we read that  ' the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.'  (1 Cor. 2:14.)

"It is incumbent upon each informed and spiritually attuned person to help overcome such foolishness of men who would deny divine creation or think that man simply evolved.  By the Spirit, we perceive the truer and more believable wisdom of God.

"With great conviction, I add my testimony to that of my fellow Apostle Paul, who said,  ' Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? ' "

Throughout his service in the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Nelson's views on creation and evolution have not varied.  During a press interview less than a year ago, he said:

"We believe that God is our creator and that he has created other forms of life.  It's interesting to me, drawing on my 40 years experience as a medical doctor, how similar those species are.  We developed open-heart surgery, for example, experimenting on lower animals simply because the same creator made the human being.  We owe a lot to those lower species.  But to think that man evolved from one species to another is, to me, incomprehensible....  Man has always been man.  Dogs have always been dogs.  Monkeys have always been monkeys.  It's just the way genetics works.  ("In Focus: Mormonism in Modern America," May 16, 2007, Pew Forum interview.)

Because of Elder Nelson's intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the human body, he is "convinced that its creation was divine."  Thus, for him it is "foolishness [to] deny divine creation or think that man simply evolved."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From that interview you linked:

Nelson: Man has always been man. Dogs have always been dogs. Monkeys have always been monkeys. It's just the way genetics works.

Wickman: The Scripture describing the Lord as the creator of all of these things says very little about how it was done. I don't know of anybody in the ranks of the First Presidency and the Twelve [Apostles] who has ever spent much time worrying about this matter of evolution.

Nelson: We have this doctrine, recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 101: "When the Lord shall come again, he shall reveal all things, things which have passed, hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth by which it was made and the purpose and the end thereof, things most precious, things that are above, things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, upon the earth, and in heaven." So as I close that quotation, I realize that there are just some things that we won't know until that day.

Emphasis mine.


3/30/2008 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...



You are correct.  And Elder Nelson is also correct.  "There are just some things that we [don't] know."  It turns out that this parallels the following paragraph from the Church's current doctrinal position statement on evolution, the 1909 First Presidency's statement on "The Origin of Man."

-------------- quote --------------
"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."  (Ensign, Feb 2002, p.30.)
-------------- end quote --------------

Those who criticize Elder Nelson's views on evolution seem to feel that science has now discovered "the facts relating to the origin of Adam's race."  This is a rejection of the Church's stated doctrine that "God alone can reveal them."

3/30/2008 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's to say that God is not currently revealing it? I think the biggest problem with science is that it doesn't recognize divine influence--that's the great heresy.


3/30/2008 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Steve M. said...


How exactly should science go about "recogniz[ing] divine influence"? Are there empirical, objectively verifiable means of identifying "divine influence"? How do you design a science experiment that accounts for God's influence?

I don't think that's the job of science.

3/31/2008 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve M.,

I'm saying that God may, in fact, be revealing the mysteries regarding man's origins and what-not because of a general increase of intelligence ("light") among all people--hence the rise and refinement of the sciences. We don't need to look for some grand one-time eschatological event that'll pull the lid off of eternity.

But the heresy rests in our forgetfulness of the Creator as we worship the wonders of his creation in the lab.


4/01/2008 09:46:00 PM  

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