Mormons, Darwinism and Evolution

I know very little about Darwin and Evolution. I didn't pay attention when that was taught in school. I wasn't interested in it then and I'm not sure that I am now. But I am curious to find out why I've been hearing and reading more and more about it lately. What's the big deal? As far as I know Darwinists believe that we evolved from apes or that life was created in primordial slime.

I don't believe that we evolved from apes and frankly, I can't believe that Darwinists believe that either. Tell me I'm wrong. That must be what the people who oppose Darwinism say that Darwinists believe. I'm a Mormon and I believe that God placed Adam and Eve here upon the Earth a long time ago. I believe that Adam and Eve became mortal about 6,000 years ago.

I don't know that it was 6,000 years ago that Adam and Eve were placed here because who knows how long it was before they became mortal? But I don't believe they evolved from apes or slime. They were born to immortal parents. Adam was a son of God. They were immortal before the Fall. I believe in the Fall of Adam and believe that there was no death before the Fall.

So is it true that all Darwinists and Evolutionists don't believe in God? Do they really believe that life began by chance and that there was no intelligent design? I am a creationist, not an evolutionist. I believe God created the Earth, the heavens, the stars, animals, plants, man and just about everything that we see. I believe he organized it from material that he created.

There are some things I can't explain about the creation. One of them is did God organize the material for this earth from pre-existent material? I believe he did. I believe the dinosaurs must have come from another planet, simply because there was no death before the fall. That is a very important point for me. The earth must have been organized from older planets.

I know the First Presidency has published official statements on evolution several times early in the 20th Century. I also know that President Joesph Fielding Smith wrote a book about the subject when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve. I also believe that even President McKay did not support it, responding when asked, "It is not official doctrine of the church."

According to the contributors of the Wikipedia article on Mormonism and Evolution, there is no official church position on the subject of biological or organic evolution. I am satisfied that when God wants us to know more about it, he will let us know. Perhaps we can ask Him when he comes again. It just doesn't bother me very much. For some people it has become a problem.

I ran across a YouTube video today from Ben Stein on the subject of scientists losing their jobs because they are questioning evolution. Amazingly enough, he has written a documentary about this controversy and it has been made into a movie that comes out April 18th. I had not heard about it. It is called, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." YouTube has short and longer trailers.

This must be a controversial subject. There are 2,700+ comments on Ben's blog. Ben has been going to college campuses across the country to talk about the movie. What little I have read on his blog, in Wikipedia and in the blogs of several of my visitors on the subject has convinced me that it is a very complex matter. I am glad the church does not yet have an official position.

A recent visitor to my blog, Gary Shapiro, has a blog dedicated to the idea of No Death Before the Fall. In fact that is the name of his blog. I recommend a visit. Another visitor, S. Faux, also LDS, has posted a thought-provoking essay on Evolution on his blog, Mormon Insights. He is a life scientist (biology), and writes regularly on many subjects. I enjoy his essays very much.

Isn't it great that we can disagree on the subject of evolution and still be considered faithful members of the church? I wish that others in the world would take note of this idea. We can get along and dialog intelligently on a controversial subject without descending to name-calling or personal attacks. We also show respect for each other's point of view. Take note you anti's!


S.Faux said…
Thanks for the advertisement, Tim!! My ambition is to get as many hits as you do.

You are right. Evolutionists do NOT believe that humans derive from the apes. However, they do believe that humans and apes about 8 million years ago had a common ancestor.

All I can say is that I love the instruction in the Temple. It all fits my mental schemes.

Theology does not help me generate scientific hypotheses to test. On the other hand, science does not teach me how to get close to God and return to Him. Both views of the world are essential in my life.

I love your essays and thoughts. Our disagreements are minor. Our agreements are major. Keep writing and I will keep reading.
Grandma Labrum said…
You might be interested in reading the book Earth: In the Beginning by Eric Skousen. He has a PhD in space physics. On the book's flyer it states: Among the questions addressed and answered in this book are: Where did the earth's creation take place? Who participated? Did the creation take 6,000 years or millions of year? How did life begin on the earth? How did it develop? Where did the dinosaurs come from? Why were they here? Are there evidences of God's handiwork in the rock record of the earth? Are there answers to the unresolved questions of earth scientists in God's revealed record of the creation?
I reread this book often. Very enlightening. I purchased it from Deseret book. I can provide more information if you would like.
Steve M. said…
I know very little about Darwin and Evolution.

I'm not sure that this is the best way to begin a post in which you state your disagreements with evolution.

I don't believe that we evolved from apes and frankly, I can't believe that Darwinists believe that either.

I'm not sure who refers to themselves as "Darwinists" these days, but yes, those who accept evolution do believe that people and modern apes share common ancestors. This isn't a preposterous idea; genetically, we are ten times closer to chimpanzees than mice are to rats.

I believe in the Fall of Adam and believe that there was no death before the Fall.

"The oldest, that is to say the earliest, rocks thus far identified in land masses reveal the fossilized remains of once living organisms, plant and animal. The coal strata, upon which the world of industry so largely depends, are essentially but highly compressed and chemically changed vegetable substance. The whole series of chalk deposits and many of our deep-sea limestones contain the skeletal remains of animals. These lived and died, age after age, while the earth was yet unfit for human habitation." - James E. Talmage, "The Earth and Man"
Steve M. said…
I know very little about Darwin and Evolution.

I'm not sure that this is the best way to begin a post in which you state your non-acceptance of evolution.

Isn't it great that we can disagree on the subject of evolution and still be considered faithful members of the church?

This is great. However, I might suggest that some of those Mormons who do not accept evolution could be more tolerant of other views. For instance, I'm not sure that statements such as the following really foster mutual understanding or dialogue:

I don't believe that we evolved from apes and frankly, I can't believe that Darwinists believe that either. Tell me I'm wrong.

Furthermore, statements such as this one seemingly indicate that Mormonism is incompatible with acceptance of evolution:

I'm a Mormon and I believe that God placed Adam and Eve here upon the Earth a long time ago.

Talmage believed that thousands of animal and plant species lived and died on earth before humans existed (see his "The Earth and Man").
According to his most recent biography (David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism), David O. McKay believed in evolution.

It's not that preposterous of an idea. I mean, humans are genetically ten times closer to chimpanzees than mice are to rats. From the appendix to goosebumps, we are full of the vestiges of our evolutionary past.
Tim Malone said…
Thanks to each of you for taking the time to educate me. I knew somebody would respond as this seems to be a topic about which many people are passionate.

I mean no offense Steve M. but I'm sure you can recognize that I am probably typical of the level of understanding of your basic Mormon churchgoer: slim to none.

I have met few in the church who are interested in the subject. I have also met a few who so totally reject the idea as to be obnoxious and close-minded - very annoying.

Grandma Labrum, thank you for the recommendation on the book by Eric Skousen. I will read it before I write about this subject again. Steve, was that you that wrote the first comment on the review page at Deseret Book?

By the way, I have turned off moderation on the comments. There is nothing more frustrating than posting a comment and not being able to review it right away for accuracy. That does not encourage dialog.

Steve M, I went to each of the blogs you list on your blogroll looking for your writings. I confess I didn't look too deep. Post some of your stuff on your blog. I am interested in learning more about you and your views.

Thanks for your comments. I look forward to becoming more educated about the subject of evolution. I'm not sure I understand yet McConkie's statement that Mormons who believe in evolution have a "weak and puerile" intellect.
R. Gary said…

Steve M.:

In each of your previous two comments, you quoted a 1931 speech by Elder James E. Talmage.  Can you tell us what he means when he says in that speech:

-------------- quote --------------
"Man is the child of God.... He is born in the lineage of Deity, not in the posterity of the brute creation?"  ("The Earth and Man," 1931, pp.13-14; emphasis added.)
-------------- end quote --------------

The above 1931 statement is, by the way, in complete harmony with President Boyd K. Packer's more recent teaching that evolution as a possibility for the origin of man's body is incompatible with "an understanding of the sealing authority," which (he says twice for emphasis), "cannot admit to ancestral blood lines to beasts."  ("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.22, emphasis in the original.)


You also assert that "David O. McKay believed in evolution."

Gregory A. Prince and Wm. Robert Wright, in David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2005), state clearly that President McKay...

-------------- quote --------------
"...never made a public statement affirming his acceptance of biological evolution.... The closest he came ... was [using] evolution as an argument in favor of resurrection [and going] so far as to borrow from Charles Darwin to make his point."  (p. 46).
-------------- end quote --------------

Likening evolution to the Resurrection was a rhetorical comparison that President McKay used more than once during his ministry.  In reality, of course, Darwin's theory is unrelated to the Resurrection.  But unfortunately, such remarks are sometimes cited as evidence that President McKay believed in biological evolution.


Tim Malone:

Thanks for the blog mention!  I try hard NOT to totally reject evolution.  My main hope is to help people understand what Church leaders teach about death before the Fall and the origin of man.  Once I'm satisfied there is a correct understanding of what the Church teaches, I really don't care what others believe about evolution.
Anonymous said… has tons of good information on this issue.
Jon W. said…
I hate to seem like I am out there advertizing but I had a similar, though different view on the same subject here.

Now not to put anyone down or critize anyone here but I want to pose one question for those who believe No Death Before the Fall.

What do you say about Genesis 2:16-17? If, "Of every tree of the garden thou can freely eat."
Then how do we explain no death before the fall?

But as I said everyone can believe as they want and until the end of our mortal probation.
Jared said…
Very interesting preview for the movie. I would also highly recommend Earth: In the Beginning but there are other books out there that investigate the subject. Other books include Rock and Ice by Dr. Ronald Rollins and Divine Engineering by David N. Brems.
Jeff G said…
I would definitely NOT recommend Skousen's book. His ideas are pretty original and fascinating to boot, however, they don't do evolution any justice whatsoever. Additionally, his "reconciliation" can hardly be considered orthodox among Mormons either.

If I were to recommend one single book for you to read, it would be Finding Darwin's God by Keith Miller. The second for a person such as yourself would be Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding by Stephens and Meldrum.
Anonymous said…
This films' main thesis, that anyone in the science community who believes in God is being "expelled" is false at its core.

In a New York Times interview, Walter Ruloff (producer of Expelled) said that researchers, who had studied cellular mechanisms, made findings suggestive of an intelligent designer. "But they are afraid to report them".

Mr. Ruloff also cited Dr. Francis S. Collins, a geneticist who directs the National Human Genome Research Institute and whose book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”, explains how he came to embrace his Christian faith. Mr. Ruloff said that Dr. Collins separates his religious beliefs from his scientific work only because “he is toeing the party line”.

That’s “just ludicrous,” Dr. Collins said in a telephone interview. While many of his scientific colleagues are not religious and some are “a bit puzzled” by his faith, he said, “they are generally very respectful.” He said that if the problem Mr. Ruloff describes existed, he is certain he would know about it.

Similarly, Dr. Ken Miller is a professed Christian who wrote "Finding Darwin's God" (which I suggest you read). Dr. Miller has not been "expelled" in any fashion for his belief in God.

The movie tries to make the case that "Big Science" is nothing but a huge atheist conspiracy out to silence believers, but only presents a very one-sided look at some Discovery Institute "martyrs".

Carolyn Crocker "expelled"? - No.
Her annual teaching contract was not renewed. Was she "fired" for daring to bring God into research? - No. She was hired to teach Biology, and she decided to ignore the schools' curriculum and substitute her own curriculum.

Guillermo Gonzalez "expelled"? - No.
He was not granted tenure. The film doesn't bring up the fact that in all his years at ISU he had only brought in only a miniscule amount of grant money. Nor does it bring up the fact that in all his years at ISU he failed to mentor a single student through to their PhD. Nor does it mention that in his career at ISU, his previous excellent record of publication had dropped precipitously.

Richard von Sternberg "expelled"? - No.
Sternberg continues to work for NIH in the same capacity. Of course the movie doesn't bring up his underhanded tactics in getting Meyers work published.

This movie attempts to influence it's viewers with dishonesty, half-truths, and by a completely one-sided presentation of the facts.

If a scientists' research is not accepted by the scientific community, it isn't because the scientist either believes or doesn't believe in God, it is usually because they are producing bad science. Like the idea of Intelligent Design.
Allen said…
Tim, I have an essay that gives a different view of how traditional evolution could be reconciled with the Fall of Adam and no death before the fall. Keep in mind that I make no claims that the essay is Church doctrine or even is true. It is just speculation about evolution and the scriptural account of the Fall of Adam and how the two accounts could agree with each other. The premise being that truth in science and truth in religion must, eventually, agree.
Anonymous said…
Tim, I am not quite certain about death before the Fall. From a spiritual point of view, what did it mean that Adam became the first flesh? That, to me, seems to be a key question on this. I have speculated that it refers to him becoming a man capable of sinning, as opposed to total innocence before.

And, in Moses, God says that he called the man "Adam, for they are many." Is the creation story very symbolic after all? I wouldn't be surprised if it were. Then, again, I would be surprised if Michael didn't have a key role in the beginning....

But all that is neither here nor there, really. As S.Faux says, science doesn't tell us how to get to know God, and religion doesn't tell us how to build machines or something like that (exceptional situations like Nephi building the ship according to the Lord's instructions notwithstanding). Naturally, these overlap at times, like the talents, or special gifts that some people seem to have. I believe they brought them from the premortal life.

And besides, if the FP + Q12 don't want to take a firm stand on it, I won't.

Young-earth creationism, BTW, is an Evangelical hangup that comes from trying to hang on to biblical inerrancy. You know, the kind where the Pi is 3.0 (check the measurements of the font in Solomon's temple; 10 cubits diameter, 30 circumference)? These are the same people, who try to demonize us, because we believe differently about some things than they.

It's unbelievable I haven't run into this post before. A good one, again.
Samuel Kinns said…
I used to think that Mormons were pretty intelligent people until i started to read Eric Skousen's book "Earth in the Beginning". His idea that he borrows from his father that life forms were deposited on this earth by being translated and transferred from other mortal earth's creates a real chicken or egg situation that ignores the facts found in the fossil record. He also claims that some early hominids are the posterity of Adam and Eve when DNA proves otherwise. I have never seen such extreme mental gymnastics employed to avoid the obvious logic dictated by evolution science in order to conform to the Bible.

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