Sunday, November 08, 2009

Diverse apostolic views on evolution

For more than 100 years, LDS apostles and prophets have spoken plainly against the idea that organic evolution explains the origin of man.  But many LDS evolutionists feel everything said against evolution before 1970 was premature because most of the scientific evidence for evolution has come since then. [1]

Clearly, those who spoke against evolution before 1970 did not then understand today's science.  So for the sake of discussion, let's temporarily disallow everything said about evolution by apostles and prophets before 1970.  In that context, let's examine the claim that there are diverse viewpoints among the apostles on evolution.

A few years ago, William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffery made this claim in their book Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements.  They said:

"If one included statements by LDS apostles in a handout on evolution, the range of views would include some statements against evolution, some sympathetic to evolution and several shades of opinion in between." [2]

First, the LDS Church has never published a statement by any LDS apostle sympathetic to human evolution.  Second, if we disallow pre-1970 statements in a handout on evolution, the range of views becomes very narrow:  There are no Church published statements sympathetic to evolution.

SteveP on diverse apostolic views

SteveP recently said my position is coherent "with the words of selected general authorities."  This makes it sound like there are diverse viewpoints among the authorities and only the words of "selected" authroities support my position.  But the fact is that in my adult lifetime, including my high school and mission years plus 40 years of marriage, all Church published statements about evolution by the apostles and prophets have been against evolution.  Not one apostle or prophet has been sympathetic to evolution.

In other words, SteveP, I am questioning your choice of the word "selected" because my position is consistent with ALL of the words of the apostles and prophets on evolution spoken during my entire adult lifetime.  For me, the coveted yet elusive diversity simply doesn't exist.



1.  In their 2001 book, Trent D. Stephens and D. Jeffrey Meldrum explain it this way;

"Many of the unofficial statements concerning evolution were products of their time. However, it is important to understand that scientific progress has been enormous in this area over the past thirty years. Even statements made as late as the 1960s and 1970s are dated in terms of the science they respond to in light of the recent explosion of new knowledge in biology and anthropology relative to the theory of evolution. The conclusions of scientists are now corroborated by vast amounts of molecular (DNA) data, which did not exist before 1970, and by a greatly expanded fossil record." (Trent D. Stephens and D. Jeffrey Meldrum, Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding, Signature Books, 2001, p.11.)

"The techniques for rapidly sequencing DNA (discovering the sequence of the base units) were not developed until the early 1970s. Therefore, essentially all of what we know about animal interrelatedness at the molecular level has been discovered since 1970. It is important to remember that most of the books that have been written concerning the Mormon church and the theory of evolution were published before any of the molecular data, which are some of the most convincing supporting the theory of evolution, were available.

"The first gene was isolated from a bacterium in the summer of 1970, and no genes had yet been sequenced. We now have sequenced thousands in hundreds of species of plants and animals." (Ibid., pp.104-105.)

"No more powerful evidence exists for any scientific theory than that it clearly and precisely predicts the data obtained from future experiments and observations, especially in fields of science that do not yet exist." (Ibid., p.111.)

2.  William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffery, Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements, 2005, p.5.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Isn't Jesus a fundamentalist Mormon creationist?

These are questions for SteveP of The Mormon Organon who said Friday that fundamentalist Mormon creationists should "form their own Church."

Either God created the earth and man, or they evolved as proposed by the Big Bang theory.  For me, it's one or the other.  It is my belief that the book of Genesis accurately records the origin of the earth and man and that the books of Moses and Abraham, as well as the temple narrative, confirm the Genesis creation account.  If this belief makes me a fundamentalist Mormon creationist, so be it.  I am in good company.  I am in company with Joseph Fielding Smith, Ezra Taft Benson, Bruce R. McConkie, Boyd K. Packer, and Russell M. Nelson, plus a host of other fundamentalist Mormon creationists.  So why should we form our own Church?

What if Jesus Christ, whose Church we already belong to, is better represented on the subject of evolution by past and present apostles and prophets than He is by SteveP and Kenneth Miller?  In other words, what if Jesus Christ himself is a fundamentalist Mormon creationist?

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