Saturday, November 01, 2008

David H. Bailey, creationism, and the 1931 First Presidency

In his recent Mormon Organon article, David H. Bailey claims the Church's view on evolution was made clear by the 1931 First Presidency. Actually, there was no 1931 First Presidency statement on evolution.

Bailey is quoting from an internal 3,200 word memo that was distributed by the First Presidency to general authorities in 1931. The subject of the memo was a proposed priesthood manual written by Elder B. H. Roberts of the Seventy.

Despite its length, the 1931 memo doesn't even mention evolution and apparently has no problem with Roberts stating that "the claims of evolution ... are contrary to all experience so far as man's knowledge extends" or his claim that "each subdivision of life ... produces after its kind, whereas evolution in all its forms destroys that thought."

For two and a half years, the Twelve had urged Roberts to rewrite the chapters on reconciling creation scripture with "geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology" while Roberts insisted that scripture should be interpreted using science.

The First Presidency concluded in the 1931 memo that further discussion of the manual would lead only to "confusion, division, and misunderstanding," therefore it could not be used by the Church.

The intent of the 1931 memo is not what Bailey implies. He reads "Let scientists interpret scripture using science," but the memo actually says "Don't stretch the gospel to fit scientific views."


Blogger Doug Towers said...

I don't see why the First Presidency has to make a statement when the Scriptures already make the statement.

All evolutionists are doing is accepting theory science as a superior religion to God.

You have been confused by the great rhetoric of the largest religion on the face of the earth today. And what evidence has brought you to believe in this religion?

You have looked at the fact that the other priests of this religion agree with the priest as well. Its like when missionaries turn up at someone's door and tells them something that they should believe it because his companion says it as well. They can show you pictures and give you logical reasons why you should accept the gospel. Strange that it didn't work that way when I was on a mission. But then I wasn't teaching all this fantasy about bananas turning into grapes over millions of years.

11/06/2008 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Brady said...

"each subdivision of life ... produces after its kind, whereas evolution in all its forms destroys that thought."

What, exactly, is it about evolution that makes anyone think that it doesn't permit each subdivision of life to produce after its kind?? Do you think that evolutionary processes ignore genetic principles?

11/29/2008 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Danielle and Brady,

Thank you for your questions. The statement above about "evolution in all its forms" is quoted from a book that was written 80 years ago, but not published or used, as a priesthood manual. Some say its author, B. H. Roberts, was an evolutionist. For example, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (2:478) claims "there was intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution [among] the General Authorities" while the Roberts book was being considered by the Church for publication.

Whether or not Elder Roberts was correct in his statement (the statement you are questioning) is not the point. The statement shows that he, Roberts, was not an evolutionist and that his book does not promote organic evolution. The Church's 1928-1931 review of his proposed manual did not involve "intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution." Roberts and his Brethren were in agreement on that issue.

12/01/2008 02:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying Roberts' position. I understand that the point you're trying to make is that Roberts was not an evolutionist. However, my point is that lots of LDS (perhaps yourself?) agree with his statement (regardless of its truthfulness).

Here's my assumption: that Roberts' statements in question are important to any current arguments against evolution (and in favor of a NDBF position). If you agree with this assumption, then my questions need to be answered and defended. If you disagree with my assumption and hold that the substance of Roberts' statements has no bearing on one's argument against evolution or for NDBF, you need to explain why.

So again: What, exactly, is it about evolution that makes anyone think that it doesn't permit each subdivision of life to produce after its kind?? Do you (or those who would agree with Roberts)think that evolutionary processes ignore genetic principles?


12/01/2008 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


As for current arguments in favor of evolution, if and when the Church endorses evolution I'll consider them. In the meantime, I'm staying with President Boyd K. Packer's General Conference teaching on the subject:

-------------- quote --------------
Some years ago I returned home to find our little children were waiting in the driveway. They had discovered some newly hatched chicks under the manger in the barn. When they reached for them, a protective hen rebuffed them. So they came for reinforcements.

I soon gathered a handful of little chicks for them to see and touch.

As our little girl held one of them, I said in a teasing way, "That will make a nice watchdog when it grows up, won't it?" She looked at me quizzically, as if I didn't know much.

So I changed my approach: "It won't be a watchdog, will it?" She shook her head, "No, Daddy." Then I added, "It will be a nice riding horse."

She wrinkled up her nose and gave me that "Oh, Dad!" look. For even a four-year-old knows that a chick will not be a dog, nor a horse, nor even a turkey. It will be a chicken. It will follow the pattern of its parentage. She knew that without having had a course in genetics, without a lesson or a lecture.

No lesson is more manifest in nature than that all living things do as the Lord commanded in the Creation. They reproduce "after their own kind." (See Moses 2:12, 24.) They follow the pattern of their parentage. Everyone knows that; every four-year-old knows that! A bird will not become an animal nor a fish. A mammal will not beget reptiles, nor "do men gather … figs of thistles." (Matt. 7:16.)

In the countless billions of opportunities in the reproduction of living things, one kind does not beget another. If a species ever does cross, the offspring cannot reproduce. The pattern for all life is the pattern of the parentage.

This is demonstrated in so many obvious ways, even an ordinary mind should understand it. Surely no one with reverence for God could believe that His children evolved from slime or from reptiles. (Although one can easily imagine that those who accept the theory of evolution don't show much enthusiasm for genealogical research!) The theory of evolution, and it is a theory, will have an entirely different dimension when the workings of God in creation are fully revealed. (Ensign, Nov 1984, p.66.)
-------------- end quote --------------

12/01/2008 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Brady, I do appreciate your comments, even the unpublished ones. The Church will have endorsed evolution when a Church magazine or curriculum manual contains one single apostolic statement suggesting that evolution explains the origin of man. In the meantime, you can believe in evolution if you wish, but you must recognize that all Church published apostolic statements on the subject of human evolution argue against it.

12/01/2008 09:53:00 PM  

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