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Mormons “need not shy away from evolution” – provided they don’t read the fine print

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Salt Lake City Tabernacle (2008)/Leon7, Creative Commons

From Peggy Fletcher Stack at Salt Lake City Tribune:

Mormons should be as friendly to evolution as any people on Earth, a Brigham Young University biologist unequivocally declared this week.

They believe in “eternal progression,” for example, and that the universe was organized from pre-existing matter, Steven L. Peck told a packed audience Thursday on the Utah Valley University campus. Those are ideas embraced by evolutionary biologists, too.

Hmmm. Typical Mormons probably don’t believe what 78% of evolutionary biologists believe: No God and no free will.

Could that matter?

There certainly are surprises in the development of complex structures, he said. “Things that occur on one level — like DNA mutations — are truly random. And they can bubble up to the macro world.” More.

Yes. That’s why your house cleans itself. It’s simple. Why can’t you see it?

Serious question: Does anyone out there ever get sick of the deceit that hangs around universities like yellow sludge? The religiously-based universities are often the worst for the sheer oiliness of the sludge.

See also: Are Mormons allowed to have their doubts in a free society?

As a life-long practicing Mormon (and BYU graduate), I have studied both the evolution and intelligent design theories, and find evolution to be seriously wanting from a scientific standing. I have also listened to multiple Steven L. Peck presentations and find them seriously lacking in substance. If there truly were strong evidence, he most certainly would provide strong details. Yet he never does, even though he promises to. He appears to be a great cheerleader for those unwilling to dive in and take a good, hard look at the evidence. From personal experience and investigation, every single bit of "good hard evidence" that I have been told is proof of evolution fails when investigated. Beyond the scientific failures for evolution (and please note that by this I mean macro-evolution, the process that allegedly can produce man from bacteria given enough time, has failed; micro-evolution, which produces a huge variety of dogs and cats, for example, is totally accepted and proven and is accepted by everyone), LDS (Mormon) doctrine does not support evolution. Here are several issues to consider: 1) We believe Adam and Eve fell, bringing death into the world. And our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, came explicitly to redeem us from this fall. So consider this: if Adam and Eve did not physically fall (if death already existed prior to their transgression of partaking of the forbidden fruit, they did not bring it into the world, and therefore they didn’t sin), what need is there for a Christ to redeem us from a fall that never happened? This concept messes up our understanding of Christ's purpose; it doesn't work. 2) If Adam and Eve did not bring death into the world, i.e., if death already existed in the world, then that must mean they were not the first humans. In other words, Adam and Eve must have had parents exactly as human as they were. And yet our doctrine says that Christ's atonement applies to Adam and Eve and their posterity... and so if they had human parents, why are they not included in those who can receive the grace of Christ's atonement? And why are they never spoken of? 3) The Book of Abraham (in the Pearl of Great Price), which we believe to be true, tells us in chapter 4 that all living things were to reproduce only after their kind, that this was ordered to be. Here is a key verse from Abr 4:12... 12 And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth grass from its own seed, and the herb to bring forth herb from its own seed, yielding seed after his kind; and the earth to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed. And notice the last phrase: "and the Gods saw that they were obeyed." In other words, nothing would yield a different type, as seeds or offspring, other than the same kind as the parent. It was so ordered, and all living things obeyed. This seems to block macro-evolution from occurring. 4) If you look at evolutionary theory honestly, if there is no death, there cannot be any evolution. Therefore, death is required for evolution to work. In other words, death is what fuels evolution. And that doesn’t seem to match the kind of Godhead we believe in. Evolutionary theory is used to support abortion (some young mothers have reported they were told at abortion clinics that their baby hasn’t yet evolved to the point of being human, it’s only a fish, so you can kill it) and the killing of millions of people (Hitler caused the death of millions of people he believed were “less fit” than his race). “By their fruits shall ye know them.” This cannot make evolutionary theory look good to Mormons. 5) Contrary to what is preached by the pro-evolution crowd, evolutionary theory is not required for medical research or training. For instance, doctors do not study evolutionary theory to become doctors. It doesn’t help them. They, and all other medical researchers, need to know what happens to our bodies and our systems now, and any theory about how something that allegedly happened millions of years ago is not relevant to finding a proper medical solution now, today. In summary, I do not believe that evolutionary theory can be, or should be, accepted by Mormons. ejamesr
News, your OP title is spot on. The issue here, as it almost always is, relates to how one defines the ever-slippery term "evolution." Change over time? Sure. Microevolutionary adaptations? No problem. But Mormons certainly don't believe in evolution in the same way that, say, Jerry Coyne or Richard Dawkins does. They don't believe in evolution as proof that there is no creator and that there probably also isn't any God. That is the fine print of evolution, as you note, on the philosophical side, that is so often quietly slipped in. The fine print on the science side is the long list of open questions about evolution, the alleged mechanisms, the alleged results, etc. Setting aside the philosophical point, yes you can be a good Mormon (or a good member of any other Christian denomination) and believe in "evolution," conveniently vaguely defined by the BYU biologist at the conference. Whether you can be a good scientist, however, is quite another matter. This all comes down to what I've said many times: The impression of evolutionary theory's explanatory power is inversely proportional to the specificity of the discussion. Eric Anderson
A Mormon and graduate of BYU here...I was in engineering so only encountered the mindset of a BYU biology professor in a single class. The academic arrogance disease that the discipline forces on participants had infected him. If you want to see a sect of people not allowed to have doubts, look to the evolutionary biologists, not the Mormons. GBDixon

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