Sunday, March 02, 2008

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

It is claimed by some that "humans are closely related to all life on this planet" and that "our species, Homo sapiens, which has inhabited this earth for nearly 200 millennia" is descended from hominid species such as "Australopithecus ramidis [which] dates to about 4.4 million years ago."  (Trent D. Stephens and D. Jeffrey Meldrum, Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001, pp.29, 158, & 163).

But that isn't what the Church teaches.  The passage below, for example, is found in this month's Ensign magazine and also posted on the Church's new web site about Jesus Christ.  In it, President Boyd K. Packer talks about the origin of man's mortal body and explicitely dismisses fossil evidence for the evolution of man, proclaiming instead that man's creation in the image of God was a "separate" creation:

"Created in His Image

"We are taught in Genesis, in Moses, in Abraham, in the Book of Mormon, and in the endowment that man's mortal body was made in the image of God in a separate creation.  Had the Creation come in a different way, there could have been no Fall.

"If men were merely animals, then logic favors freedom without accountability.

"How well I know that among learned men are those who look down at animals and stones to find the origin of man.  They do not look inside themselves to find the spirit there.  They train themselves to measure things by time, by thousands and by millions, and say these animals called men all came by chance.  And this they are free to do, for agency is theirs.

"But agency is ours as well.  We look up, and in the universe we see the handiwork of God and measure things by epochs, by aeons, by dispensations, by eternities.  The many things we do not know, we take on faith.

"But this we know!  It was all planned  ' before the world was '  (D&C 38:1; see also D&C 49:17; 76:13, 39; 93:7; Abraham 3:22—25).  Events from the Creation to the final, winding-up scene are not based on chance; they are based on choice!  It was planned that way.

"This we know!  This simple truth!  Had there been no Creation and no Fall, there should have been no need for any Atonement, neither a Redeemer to mediate for us.  Then Christ need not have been."  (President Boyd K. Packer, "Who Is Jesus Christ," Ensign, Mar 2008, p.19; see also the Church's new Web site about Jesus Christ.)

Lest anyone is tempted to misinterpret President Packer's words, let me point out a few things he has stated elsewhere on this subject.  First, he has said that organic evolution as an explanation for the origin of man is not only a problem, it is "the problem" ("The Law and the Light," The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, to Learn with Joy, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1990, p.6, italics in the original.)

He has pointed out that "fundamental doctrines" (i.e. the Creation, Fall, and Atonement) "cannot co-exist" with the belief that man's body evolved from lower forms of animal life.  (Ibid., p.7.)  He has declared that if the theory of evolution applies to man, "there was no Fall and therefore no need for an atonement, nor a gospel of redemption, nor a redeemer."  (Ibid.,p.22.)

President Packer has warned members not to mortgage their testimonies "for an unproved theory" on how man's body was created and admonishes members to have faith "in the revelations" leaving man where the revelations have put him.  (Ibid., p.10.)  He has warned, "Do not mortgage your soul for unproved theories." (Ibid., p.26.)

President Packer has said that man is not the product of evolution.  This idea, he has said, "is false!"  (Ibid., p.21.)  And, he has also said, theistic evolution "is equally false."  (Ibid.)

President Packer has explained that evolution as a possibility for the origin of man's body is incompatible with "an understanding of the sealing authority," which (he said twice for emphasis) "cannot admit to ancestral blood lines to beasts."  (Ibid., p.22; italics in the original.)

More recently, President Packer has said: " ' Children are an heritage of the Lord '  (Psalms 127:3).  Each is a child of God.  He is not a monkey; neither were his ancestors."  ("Children of God,"  BYU Women's Conference, May 5, 2006, p.5.)

Clearly, the new Church web site and the March Ensign both affirm the divine, as opposed to evolutionary, origin of man.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that humanity, in both its origin and destiny, is divine. I agree that choice and the atonement of Christ are essential to human salvation. I disagree that any of this is incompatible with evolution. Divine and evolutionary origins are not mutually exclusive, except to the extent that we so insist. I fear, too, that such insistence will harm our efforts as disciples of Christ, both as we attempt to share the gospel and as we work to implement it in practical ways toward building a better world, for which purpose we will need to leverage ever more profound knowledge regarding the mechanisms of creation.

3/02/2008 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find endless amusement here in the Bloggernacle. "Enlightened members" keep trying to show how progressive and scientifically advanced Mormons are in contrast to other religious groups only to have BKP and the Ensign consistently advocate the same narrow religious views as everyone else.

3/03/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger NorthernAl said...

Is this site a parody? Or is it a clever attempt to eat away at the church by convincing members that only absurdly literal interpretations of scripture are acceptable. Either way, it is very well done.

3/03/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

It should be self-evident among Latter-day Saints that God has given apostles and prophets "for the edifying of the body of Christ."  (Eph. 4:12.)  Their ministry is to see that "we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine."  (Eph. 4:14.)  President Gordon B. Hinckley stated in general conference that the apostles and prophets are called to teach and interpret doctrine:

"The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles, called and ordained to hold the keys of the priesthood, have the authority and responsibility to govern the Church, to administer its ordinances, to expound its doctrine, and to establish and maintain its practices."  (Ensign, May 1994, p.54; emphasis added.)

Twice the Lord tells the elders of the Church to say "none other things" than that which the apostles and prophets teach.  (D&C 52:9, 36.)  The Encyclopedia of Mormonism explains that members of First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are appointed to interpret doctrine:

"Especially authoritative are the official pronouncements of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who are sustained by Church members as 'prophets, seers, and revelators.' Their writings and addresses—particularly in general conference—are cited frequently as guides for living and for authoritative interpretation of doctrine."  (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1281.)

3/03/2008 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

A question for LDS evolutionists:  Where and when has the Church published an apostolic statement endorsing the idea that organic evolution explains the origin of man?

3/03/2008 06:51:00 PM  

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