Monday, January 14, 2013


Do Mormons believe in evolution? One would probably get a mix of answers from both the authorities and the rank and file, because there are a mix of definitions. But there is an "evolution concept" in Mormonism that consistently stirs the antagonism of many fellow Christians. And having recently begun watching "Fires of Faith: The Coming Forth of the King James Bible" one is reminded of the historical predilection toward charges of heresy when beliefs and actions do not conform to the accepted norm.

Also, while researching on the WWWeb, one is unpleasantly reminded that such a predilection is not just historical. The internet is full of pronouncements of disdain for perceived ideological opponents—not only in religious circles, but in most every field of knowledge.

How déjà vu is this (from a recent publication by Sam Harris1)?
Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others. There is, in fact, no talking to some people. If they cannot be captured, and they often cannot, otherwise tolerant people may be justified in killing them in self-defense. This is what the United States attempted in Afghanistan, and it is what we and other Western powers are bound to attempt, at an even greater cost to ourselves and to innocents abroad, elsewhere in the Muslim world. We will continue to spill blood in what is, at bottom, a war of ideas.
And how déjà vu is Richard Dawkins2 loathing of alternative theorists?

Have we not evolved to the point where we can
claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God [or not] according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. (Pearl of Great Price Articles of Faith 1:11)?
The militant atheists are certainly right about the many crimes perpetuated in the name of religion, but it is amazing to hear these "men of [still advancing] science" espouse "old time" solutions as they pursue an agenda to eradicate the "God delusion" (that they believe, but cannot prove).

So what do Mormons believe about evolution? Well, frankly, it seems to be evolving: as knowledge increases; as man's ability to comprehend the incomprehensible increases; as his obedience to law opens up greater vistas. But for the inquiring mind, here are four fascinating explorations:
▪ John A. Widtsoe, Rational Theology (published 1915; Free Kindle download)[3]

▪ Robert P. Burton and Bruce F. Webster, "Some Thoughts on Higher-dimensional Realms," BYU Studies 20, no. 3 (Spring 1980): 281-296 [4]

▪ Eugene England, "Perfection and Progression: Two Complementary Ways to Talk about God," BYU Studies 29, no.3 (Summer 1989): 31–47[5]

▪ James R. Harris, "Eternal Progression and the Foreknowledge of God," BYU Studies 8, no.1 (Autumn 1967)[6]
If these ideas are heretical in your mind, how can you be sure? As sure as 16th Century England was in burning her Bible translators and smugglers? As sure as every other soul who has killed for the sake of an idea or opinion? How about live and let live!

1) ; see page 28.
2) ; e.g.: "attack religion as a whole" and to eradicate it for its past, present (and future) crimes against humanity; find at minute 8:00 ~ "attack religion as a whole"; at 28:00 ~ "secretly despise religion as much as I do"
[4] (click "Download Article Free")
[6] (click "Download Article Free")