SL Tribune explores Evolution and Faith

This Saturday’s Salt Lake Tribune is devoted to Evolution and Faith. Check out Peggy Stack’s article on LDS biologist Dan Fairbanks in particular.

I also found this letter from American Christian Clergy interesting and wondered in which ways might we as LDS members embrace such truths as expressed here (knowing we embrace truths where ever we find them) and which things we would be uncomfortable with:

Text of the clergy letter from American Christian clergy
An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science:

    Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible — the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark — convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.

    We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

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10 Responses to SL Tribune explores Evolution and Faith

  1. b says:

    Somebody needs to write a convincing synthesis of “Adam as First Man” and “Evolution as Origin of Life”. I think that would go a long ways towards convincing a lot of Utahns in the value of evolutionary theory

  2. R. Gary says:

    SteveP, thanks for the link to Saturday’s Evolution and Faith section in the Salt Lake Tribune. However, one correction should be made.

  3. SteveP says:

    R. Gary, I actually think you might be right about Mormons not believing in Evolution being the majority view. I of course question whether that is the correct view.

  4. It would definitely be nice to see Church leaders involved in some real dialogue with other religions about this topic. It seems like a lot of these interfaith dialogues on various topics are almost always without the participation of the LDS Church. Just like with the environment, the Church is being very silent about evolution – which is such a large hangup to many people.

    I like your positive take on evolution. I’m not sure why this war on Darwin is still continuing by some members. Using the language of Alma, I have all things upon the face of the earth to not only denote the existence of God, but also to denote evolution as the means of His creation.

  5. SteveP says:

    gma, well said.

  6. rick says:

    I agree with b. Has there been a good attempt at reconciling these two creation stories?

  7. Allen says:

    b, here is my essay that attempts a correlation between the Biblical view of creation and evolution. Almost everyone who writes about the Biblical view of creation and evolution makes a serious mistake in placing evolution at the beginning of the Biblical creation story. From the Biblical view, it is clear that the earth didn’t become mortal until after Adam and Eve partook of the fruit. Thus, evolution couldn’t have been involved until after Adam and Eve partook of the fruit.

  8. DB says:


    Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Church leadership to begin discussing the relationship between the scriptural account of the creation and evolution. There are a couple of reasons why they’re not going to do that. One is that the Church’s mission is to help bring about the salvation of mankind. Understanding the relationship between evolution and the creation really has no relevance when it comes to saving souls. The General Authorities are not going spend much time discussing a topic that is irrelevant to their mission no matter what their personal opinion on the topic might be. Another is that, unlike other churches, we depend on active revelation to guide our understanding of gospel truths. There are many unanswered questions about the gospel but until the Lord decides to provide those answers, the General Authorities are not going to provide us with any definitive answers based solely on their opinion. Other churches have the luxury of using personal opinion to provide answers to any question which is why other churches are more likely to be involved in open dialogue on topics like this. Having an open line of communication with the Almighty has many advantages, but you have to be very patient if you want all the answers.

  9. Ken Reed says:

    I have written and presented firesides on the topic of LDS doctrine and science in general, including evolution. In both firesides, we had more than 90 people jammed into the RS room.

    There is a hunger for LDS to understand this subject. BYU Farms is busily de-mystifying the Book of Mormon and the BOM is emerging stronger than ever. Recognition of the Bible for what it is, in a 6,000-year-old context, will do the same.

    All that is required is a recognition of the Adam and Eve story as allegorical and, voila, problem solved. Next time you go to the temple consider the following:

    Mankind (Homo sapiens sapiens) has been on earth for about 200,000 years. Other humanoids have been around for more than 1 million years. Living in a state of innocence, not knowing good from evil. They live in a sinless world, for there is no sin without the law.

    Eventually the Sumarians invent writing. We humans also have farming and communities (Cain the farmer, his wife from Nod, etc). At this point the law is given to the first PROPHET. At this point, there can be sin and the PROPHET has knowledge of good and evil. Now there is death (spiritual death) where before was innocence.

    See how easy it is? Think about it.

  10. DB says:

    Sure, that’s easy, but it doesn’t fit. It doesn’t fit into the plan of salvation, the gospel, or the scriptures. Coming up with an “easy” solution just doesn’t work because “easy” solutions do nothing more than change either the scientific or scriptural account to fit one’s view of the other so that the changed account becomes either ridiculous or meaningless. This is a problem that too many people have; they view the scientific and scriptural accounts of the creation as irreconcilable, conclude that one must be wrong, and change the one that either seems easier to change or they have less of an emotional connection to so that everything “fits”. But that never works. We either end up with fossils coming from other planets or Adam and Eve being an allegory. Either a ridiculous scientific explanation or a scriptural explanation that renders the account of the creation meaningless. And yes, that does render the scriptural account of the creation meaningless because the creation and the Fall of Adam are so central to the Plan of Salvation that interpreting them in a non-literal context makes all of it meaningless. Are the two sides irreconcilable? Of course not, but when we attempt to reconcile two truths by changing one of them, all we’ve done is create is create a truth and a fallacy.

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