To: All Nov2893 12:45PM Subject: Books on Evolution \ Mormons on Evolution Over the last f

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

From: Duwayne Anderson To: All Nov-28-93 12:45PM Subject: Books on Evolution \ Mormons on Evolution Organization: Tektronix, Inc., Redmond, OR, USA From: (Duwayne Anderson) Message-ID: <2db2l7$> Newsgroups: Over the last few months I have posted several requests for information regarding evolution, the universal flood myth, and evidence for accelerated seismic activity. I have requested this information in order to counter some of the things my 14 year-old son is being taught at the Mormon church he attends. I appreciate the many suggestions and comments that have been forwarded to me in response to these requests. I recently placed an order for over 25 books, many of which were recommended by contributors to this news group. Thanks! In response to my requests some have suggested that the Mormon church does not have an official position regarding evolution, or such Old Testament myths as the universal flood. At least one poster suggested I handle the situation by basically telling these folks they are out of line, and asking them to keep their opinions to themselves. Although I am grateful to those who have offered this advice, I cannot accept it. The reasons are really quite simple. First, I believe the church's position on the theory of evolution (at least as far as its leaders are concerned) is non-ambiguous, and generally encourages a literal reading of Old Testament mythology. In support of this assertion I have attached several quotes from high Mormon officials at the end of this post. Second, its not possible to expect a religious zealot to be quiet. We have seen more than enough evidence of this on T.O. Asking them to keep their opinions to themselves would be a waste of time. Third, I think this is an ideal learning opportunity. Too often children grow up thinking its wrong to question religious leaders (or any leaders, for that matter). An incredible guilt complex is programed into children early on, to the effect that questioning church leaders is tantamount to questioning God. By letting these folks demonstrate just how wrong they are, I hope to demonstrate that religious leaders are anything but infallible. Their advice, like anyone else's, (and that of ancient legends and books of mythology as well) should be examined critically and, when wrong, should be discarded. I find it curious, however, that there are people who are under the impression that Mormonism is neutral about evolution and such myths as the Noachian flood. This is certainly not consistent with my own experience. I don`t have a complete explanation for this, but I will offer suggestions for a few possibilities. First, Mormons specifically state that they only believe the Bible "as far as it is translated correctly" (from the thirteen articles of the Mormon faith). To some, this might imply that Mormons are less likely to place a literal interpretation on some of the myths in the Old Testament. Perhaps reasonable people simply assume that since Mormons place restrictions on what they believe in the bible, they must not believe in the more ludicrous parts, like a 6,000 year-old earth, or a universal flood. Another possibility is that many fine Mormon scholars are superb apologists for the church. Some Mormon scholars (Hugh Nibly, for example) are far less literal when interpreting the Old Testament than are many Mormon leaders. These scholars, I believe, can see the predicament the church is headed for as the evidence supporting evolution mounts. Unfortunately, they lack the ecclesiastical authority to establish church doctrine. Finally, there is the "milk before meat and potatoes" syndrome. This syndrome suggests that potential converts should not be exposed to controversial doctrines until they have first accepted other, more basic, Mormon doctrines. Mormons that tell you the church has made no official statements about evolution may just be trying to protect you from things "you're not ready to hear yet". I really don't want to get into a protracted argument about what does or does not constitute Mormon doctrine (or doctrine in any church for that matter). It could be abstractly defined in terms of official pronouncements. But I don't find that definition particularly satisfying. The real soul of any church, it seems to me, is defined not by committee, but by the collective beliefs of its members. In that respect I suppose that among well educated Mormons evolution might not be contrary to church doctrine, while among more illiterate congregations it is. In spite of the fact I don't believe church doctrine is necessarily or completely established by edict, the importance of official pronouncements and the opinions of high ranking church officials cannot be ignored. Given their extreme emphasis on authority, I believe this is especially true of the Mormon church. At the end of this post I have listed several quotes from notable Mormons, and Mormon scripture, that strongly support a literal interpretation of the Genesis flood myth, or that denounce the theory of evolution. Since Mormonism is among the most centralized and authoritarian religions in America I believe these quotes do establish at least some justification for stating that Mormons, in concert with their "general authorities", do not believe in evolution, and do believe in such Old Testament myths as the universal flood and tower of babel. Also of significance is the fact I could find no statements by Mormon "general authorities" that supported evolution, or that even suggested those "general authorities" that ridicule evolution are not speaking for the church. This is not to say such statements do not exist. But it does illustrate a significant imbalance of opinion that, I believe, supports the reasonable assumption that among the leadership of the church evolution is considered false doctrine. If anyone is aware of any statements by Mormon general authorities that supports evolution I would very much appreciate a reference. Regardless of any statements by Mormon leaders, however, I am under no illusions that members of the church universally denounce the theory of evolution, or accept the many myths in the Old Testament. Among Mormons, as with other churches, there are widely held opinions. For me, the more interesting question is the direction the church is headed. Unfortunately, with the church's recent declaration that intellectuals represent a threat to the church, I expect they will increase, rather than decrease, their opposition to the theory of evolution. This is unfortunate because it will further the evolutionary trend of the church, itself, toward a membership that is increasingly superstitious and scientifically illiterate. Begin quotes: "Noah was born to save seed of everything, when the earth was washed of its wickedness by the flood; and the Son of God came into the world to redeem it from the fall." Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism (1). "The construction of the first vessel was given to Noah by revelation. The design of the ark was given by God, "a pattern of heavenly things."" Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism (2). "It will be remembered that the Lord set the rainbow as a token to Noah of his covenant that the earth would never again be destroyed by flood. Evidently, this same token will serve as a sign to warn us of the nearness of Christ's coming so that we may make necessary preparations." Gerald Lund, Mormon scholar (3). "The gathering of this people is as necessary to be observed by believers, as faith, repentance, baptism, or any other ordinance. It is an essential part of the Gospel of this dispensation, as much so as the necessity of building an ark by Noah for his deliverance, was a part of the Gospel in his dispensation. Then the world was destroyed by a flood, now it is to be destroyed by war, pestilence, famine, earthquakes, storms, and tempests, the sea rolling beyond it bounds, malarious vapors, vermin, disease, and by fire and the lightnings of God's wrath poured out for destruction upon Babylon." Joseph F. Smith, Sixth President of the Church (4). "There we no pr-Adomites. Any assumption to the contrary runs counter to the whole plan and scheme of the Almighty in creating and peopling this earth" Bruce R. McConkie, member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles (5). "Thus the period during which birth, and life, and death have been occurring on this earth is less than 6,000 years" Bruce R. McConkie, member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles (6). "Obviously there never will be a conflict between truths revealed in the realm of religion and those discovered by scientific research. Truth is ever in harmony with itself. But if false doctrines creep into revealed religion, these will run counter to the discovered truths of science; and if false scientific theories are postulated, these ultimately will be overthrown by the truths revealed from Him who knows all things" Bruce R. McConkie, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (7). "There is no harmony between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution." Bruce R. McConkie, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (8). "It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was `the first man of all men' (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of the race." Formal pronouncement by the First Presidency of the Church regarding the theory of evolution, Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund (9). "In the days of Noah the Lord sent a universal flood which completely immersed the whole earth and destroyed all flesh except that preserved on the ark. ... There is no question but what many of the so-called geological changes in the earth's surface which according to geological theories took place over the ages of time, in reality occurred in a matter of a few short weeks incident to the universal deluge." Bruce R. McConkie, Member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles (10). The Book of Mormon states that the earliest inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere came from the middle east just prior to "the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth". According to the Book of Mormon these people built barges which they sailed to America and the Book of Mormon gives tacit approval to the story of Noah (as well as corroborating approval of the Tower of Babel) when it describes their barges as being "tight like unto the ark of Noah." (11) "For this, the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee." (12) "Wherefore Enoch saw that Noah built an ark; and that the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand; but upon the residue of the wicked the floods came and swallowed them up. ... And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; ..." (13) "The theory of evolution as presently taught posits that higher forms of life arose gradually from lower stages of living matter. Inheritable genetic changes in offspring are assumed to be spontaneous rather than the result of directed forces external to the system." "This theory conflicts with a basic law of chemistry, the second law of thermodynamics, which states in part that it is not possible for a spontaneous process to produce a system of higher order than the system possessed at the beginning of the change." Elder George R. Hill, former general authority and member of the Quorum of Seventy (14). (1) Teachings Of The Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1976, page 12. (2) Teachings Of The Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1976, page 251. (3) The Coming of the Lord, Gerald N. Lund, Bookcraft Publishers, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1971, page 7. (4) From an 1877 speech by Joseph F. Smith, son of patriarch Hyrum Smith, and later president of the Church, as quoted in The Coming of the Lord, Gerald N. Lund, Bookcraft Publishers, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1971, pages 85-86. (5) - (8) Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bookcraft Publishers, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1966, pages 247-256. (9) Formal pronouncement by the First Presidency of the Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund), November, 1909, titled "The Origin Of Man", as reprinted in Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bookcraft Publishers, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1966, page 249. (10) Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bookcraft Publishers, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1966, page 289. (11) Book of Mormon, Ether 1:33 and Ether 6:7. (12) Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 22:9 (13) Revelation to Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, December 1830, printed in The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:43-54. (14) June 1993 issue of the "Ensign", official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. ------------------------------------------------------------ Disclaimer: Hey! these are just my ideas. Nobody else's. Calm down.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank