Manual Mormonism and Modern Science

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Read More. Back to results. Subscriber sign in. Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution. Sign in with your library card. Search within All rights reserved. Sign in to annotate. The statement offers three possibilities for the origins of the human body: 1 natural evolutionary processes, 2 transplanting of mortals from another world to the earth, and 3 birth here. Joseph Fielding Smith as an Apostle offered many views in support of young earth theories and wrote an influential book on the topic, Man, His Origin and Destiny , which some LDS people may have mistaken for LDS doctrine and not just one man's views.

These views were not representative of all leaders of the Church, and were opposed by other Apostles and General Authorities such as B. Joseph Fielding Smith's views had been largely influenced by the writings of George McCready Price, a Seventh-Day Adventist and self-made "scientist" who was seriously out of touch with real science, and took a fundamentalist position on Genesis. Elder Smith, lacking training in science, understandably could be more easily influenced by the seemingly impressive Price than could men like Elders Roberts and Talmage.

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Roberts, with a strong background in science, apparently saw no fundamental conflict between the findings of science and the Gospel. Elder Roberts believed that "Adam represented the beginning of the Adamic Dispensation, but before him, a whole race of human beings had lived and died on earth. These 'pre-Adamites' were simply destroyed in a great cataclysm that 'cleansed' the earth before Adam, leaving only fossilized remains as the meager evidence of their presence" Richard E.

Sherlock and Jeffrey E. Another scientifically-minded Apostle, James E. Talmage, was sympathetic with Elder Roberts' efforts to oppose the personal views being espoused by Joseph Fielding Smith. Elder Talmage wrote in his journal that he could "see no reason why the evolution of animal bodies cannot be true--as indeed the facts of observation make it difficult to deny--and still the soul of man is of divine origin" Jeffrey E.

Elder Roberts tried to dissuade Joseph Fielding Smith, but was not successful.


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The internal debate among the General Authorities was settled, so it would seem, when the First Presidency issued a statement on the neutrality of the Church. Grant, Anthony W.


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  • Ivins, and Charles W. Nibley directed to the General Authorities of the Church, stated:. The statement made by Elder Smith that the existence of pre-Adamites is not a doctrine of the Church is true. It is just as true that the statement: "There were not pre-Adamites upon the earth", is not a doctrine of the Church. Neither side of the controversy has been accepted as a doctrine at all. Both parties make the scripture and the statements of men who have been prominent in the affairs of the Church the basis of their contention; neither has produced definite proof in support of his views.

    Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church. On the subject of organic evolution the Church has officially taken no position.

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    It was published by Stokes in Dialogue Winter , along with background and commentary. After taking a position of neutrality, the First Presidency asked that the topic of evolution be dropped from public discourse by the General Authorities. Unfortunately, Joseph Fielding Smith's book had already been published, without the opportunity to be balanced by a work that was being prepared by B.

    Members of the Church often assumed that the Church was officially against the theory of evolution, based on what Joseph Fielding Smith had written. In fact, I read his book as a teenager and personally mistook it for official doctrine, not understanding that it was written before Joseph Fielding Smith became prophet, and not appreciating the diversity of personal opinion that can be held among our very human, fallible , but still inspired Church leaders. For further details, see the excellent and comprehensive Web page from Eyring-L the Eyring mail list , " FAQ: Evolution ", which has a wealth of information.

    William E. Evenson also affirms that this statement is "[t]he only exposition on evolution by a general authority which was review and approved by the First Presidency and then published by the Church" William E. A few excerpts from this speech follow:. From the fossil remains of plants and animals found in the rocks the scientist points to a very definite order in the sequence of life embodiment, for the older rocks, the earlier formations, reveal to us organisms of simplest structure only, whether of plants or animals.

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    These primitive species were aquatic; land forms were of later development. Some of these simpler forms of life have persisted until the present time, though with great variation as the result of changing environment. Geologists say that these very simple forms of plant and animal bodies were succeeded by others more complicated; and in the indestructible record of the rocks they read the story of advancing life from the simple to the more complex, from the single-celled protozoan to the highest animals, from the marine algae to the advanced types of flowering plant--to the apple-tree, the rose, and the oak.

    In due course came the crowning work of this creative sequence, the advent of man! Concerning this all-important event we are told that scientists and theologians are at hopeless and irreconcilable variance.

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    I regard the assumption or claim, whichever it be, as an exaggeration. Discrepancies that trouble us now will diminish as our knowledge of pertinent facts is extended.

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    The creator has made record in the rocks for man to decipher; but He has also spoken directly regarding the main stages of progress by which the earth has been brought to be what it is. The accounts can not be fundamentally opposed; one can not contradict the other; though man's interpretation of either may be seriously at fault. This record of Adam and his posterity is the only scriptural account we have of the appearance of man upon the earth. But we have also a vast and ever-increasing volume of knowledge concerning man, his early habits and customs, his industries and works of art, his tools and implements, about which such scriptures as we have thus far received are entirely silent.

    Let us not try to wrest the scriptures in an attempt to explain away what we can not explain. The opening chapters of Genesis, and scriptures related thereto, were never intended as a text-book of geology, archaeology, earth-science or man-science. Holy Scripture will endure, while the conceptions of men change with new discoveries. We do not show reverence for the scriptures when we misapply them through faulty interpretation. Geologists and anthropologists say that if the beginning of Adamic history dates back but years or less, there must have been races of human sort upon earth long before that time -- without denying, however, that Adamic history may be correct, if it be solely regarded solely as the history of the Adamic race.

    Evolution is true so far as it means development, and progress, and advancement in all the works of God; but many of the vagaries that have been made to do duty under that name are so vague as to be unacceptable to the scientific mind. At best, the conception of the development of man's body from the lower forms through evolutionary processes has been but a theory, an unproved hypothesis. Theories may be regarded as the scaffolding upon which the builder stands while placing the blocks of truth in position.

    It is a grave error to mistake the scaffolding for the wall, the flimsy and temporary structure for the stable and permanent. The scaffolding serves but a passing purpose, important though it be, and is removed as soon as the walls of that part of the edifice of knowledge have been constructed. Theories have their purpose and are indispensable, but they must never be mistaken for demonstrated facts. The Holy Scriptures should not be discredited by theories of men; they can not be discredited by fact and truth. Within the Gospel of Jesus Christ there is room and place for every truth thus far learned by man or yet to be made known.

    The Gospel is not behind the times, on the contrary it is up-to-date and ever shall be. It is natural for the young and immature mind to think that what to it is new must of necessity be new to the world. Comparatively inexperienced students are discovering from time to time apparent discrepancies between the faith of their fathers and the development of modern thought; and these they are apt to magnify and exaggerate, when as a matter of fact, their great-grandfathers met the same seeming difficulties and yet survived.

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    Believe not those who assert that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in any way opposed to progress or inconsistent with advancement. In the September Ensign the official monthly magazine of the Church for adults , a question and answer section addressed a question about the fossil record and its compatibility with the Gospel.

    see url The question was answered by a geology professor at BYU, Dr. Morris Petersen. You can read the full answer on a page at LDS. Here are some selected excerpts:. There is much we do not know about the creation and early history of the earth. The scriptural record is sketchy, and the record of science is incomplete.