The Creation/Evolution Controversy: A Battle for Cultural Power

A friend of mine recommended a book by Kary Doyle Smout called  The Creation/Evolution Controversy: A Battle for Cultural Power.  Kary is an Associate Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, and specializes in rhetoric.  I usually delve more into historical topics, so this was a bit of a change for me, but I enjoyed it.

Smout analyzes the arguments between pro and anti-evolution sides.  He noted that with rhetoric, we often create artificial dichotomies.  For example, on page 6 he gives an example from the movie Mary Poppins.  Male is shown in a positive light, and female in a negative light in the movie .  The father wants to have the children break from “sugary female thinking.”

Often we use these dichotomies to prop our position, while showing the opposing side in a negative light.  This is the case with evolution/creation.  He also notes that while 2 sides use the same words, these words have different definitions.  From page 9,

From a rhetorical perspective, a terminology battle can thus be seen, not as a stubborn refusal to accept correct definitions of terms, but as a power struggle between competing communities.  These communities try to convince other communities that their own word meanings make the best sense.  The problem is that in a culture based on Enlightenment conceptions of a universal reasoning faculty in humans, people do not ask, “Best sense according to whom?”  In effect, the terminology battle becomes a battle about worldviews.  Those who win this battle attain the power to define the terms from within their own worldview for the culture as a whole.

His book has just 5 chapters.

  1. Introduction
  2. Beginnings of the Creation/Evolution Controversy
  3. Bryan and the Scopes “Monkey” Trial
  4. The Arkansas Creation-Science Trial
  5. Conclusion

He goes into great detail into the 2 trials mentioned above, discussing witness testimony and the lawyers involved in the cases.  I was especially interested as he discussed the Biblical inerrancy during the Scopes trial.  I hadn’t realized that the evolution controversy played a significant role in this debate.  From page 62,

This notion of irreconcilable conflict between creation and evolution depends on the concept of biblical inerrancy, which developed late in the nineteenth century in the United States as an important theological position and a historical key to American fundamentalism.29 James Barr defines biblical inerrancy as the belief that the Bible is free of error of any kind.  He writes “The inerrancy of the Bible, the entire Bible including its details, is indeed the constant principle of rationality within fundamentalism.”30 This position on the Bible grounds all fundamentalists arguments; it is the measure–albeit a very narrow one, which is fraught with many disturbing implications for nonfundamentalists–of reasonableness itself.  In evaluating a statement for its truth, fundamentalists compare the statement to the Bible, resolving any conflict between the two by rejecting the statement and keeping the Bible.

It seems to me that fundamentalists have painted themselves into a corner with this notion of biblical inerrancy.  For example, did God really create the earth in 6 24-hour days?  I think most people don’t believe that, but there are some hard core people that apparently do.

While creationists won the battle at the Scopes trial (Scopes was fined $100 for teaching evolution, and many other southern states adopted similar laws as Tennessee to prevent evolution from being taught), it appears that they are losing the war.    We all know that evolution is taught in biology, and few textbooks mention creationism.  I wasn’t aware of the Arkansas battle in 1981; fundamentalists wanted to include creation science in the textbooks as well as evolution but were defeated.

I think it is funny that the two sides have created a dichotomy between evolution and creation.  Why can’t God use evolution?  Smout notes this conundrum as well, and notes that the two sides are continuing to battle as if there is no middle ground.  I liked Kary’s conclusion on page 186-7,

I finally agree more with the evolutionists than the creationists, but I do not want the creationists to give up the fight.  I am increasingly convinced that reason and knowledge are not the only bases on which to found a society, nor even that they are the best.  I am unsure that a strictly rational society it best.  How does one found a society on these values?  I doubt that either the creationists or the evolutionists will ever stop arguing so long as we have no simple way to know the truth beyond our own perceptions.  We in this pluralistic nation have had to continually deal with recurring tensions between professionalism and democracy, between the academy and other cultural institutions, between competing political philosophies, and between other differing persuasions, all arguing for, and from within, their own worldviews.  In this life, we walk by faith.  We must put our faith in those persuasions that seem most worthy of it.

So what do you think?  Must creation and evolution be at odds with each other?

112 comments on “The Creation/Evolution Controversy: A Battle for Cultural Power

  1. MH,

    One must be careful here because even Steve will admit that evolution has something to do with the account in evolution. How? one doesn’t quite know. Intelligent design is not a theory to find out who God is or why he created the earth. ID as such is not a religion nor does it have much to do with what creationsim has become. Sure, there may have been a general branching off of types of creationism into the intelligent design movement, nobody denies that. But, intelligent design is a scientific theory to explain the complexities we see in both nature and the universe. It has a lot to do with math and statistics as does evolution. It also has a lot to do with probabilities and outcomes documented in science.

    One thing that bothers me as does other followers of the ID movement is seeing this- “intelligent design/ creationism” as you have noted. Ironically, the way this is termed is usually done so froma biased point of view held by evolutionists. Its an attack on the basic merits of ID. Evolutionists feel that rather than debate the scientific findings of ID, all they really need to do is make ID out to be a religious cult movement where proponents of it will push Genesis onto young kids in schools. Intelligent design and creationism are two separate movements which share “some” of the same ideas. For example- Yes, I believe in the creation, but that doesn’t make me a creationist in the literal and general sense because I do not believe the way that creationists generally interpret their bibles. As for the creation itself I believe that God is an “intelligent designer” and was the very cause for why complexity exists in nature.

    Thus you can see that whereas creationism is more of a movement that has already identified the intelligent designer, it is taken from a purely religious interpretation and viewpoint. ID on the other hand is not a religious ideal nor is it a movement of any type of such. You may be surprised that some people who believe in ID also believe in evolution, they just view the process of “how” evolution occurred as being different than standard Darwinian evolution.

    The one thing that makes ID stand out and above all other theories is that it directly refutes natural selection on a scientific level as the cause for new and better complex information in living things. This is the point usually in this debate that evolutionists will generally stae something like-
    “ID isn’t science, its religion…” But to counter I ask this If ID isn’t science then neither is evolution because ID is a hypothesis to directly refute the theory of the mechanism of evolution. Let me ask this simple question- Is it scientifically possible to challenge Darwinian evolution? If you answer yes then ID very much is science. If you answer no then Darwinian evolution can’t possibly work within the scientific method and as such isn’t science.

  2. Sorry, the first line should have read-

    “Steve will admit that evolution has something to do with the account in Genesis”

  3. MH,

    As to your poll, I get smarter and more educated every day and I am getting farther and farther away from evolution every day.

  4. MH, is it really that simple for you?
    Doesn’t that smell a little like cognitive dissonance?
    You (figurative you) can’t always hide behind interpretation.

    Steve, I wasn’t referring to the quoted BoM scriptures.
    I was referring to the Book of Moses.

    Rob, seriously, there is not enough water. The mountains didn’t rise up and move above the water. There isn’t even anything scriptural to back that up.

  5. I agree with MH’s possible poll results. Of course I have nothing to back that up, but my own opinion.

  6. Rob,
    What surprises me most about your comments here is that you state “on day seven Adam, the first man and also the first of all life was formed and his spirit placed inside his new body.”

    I’m apparently reading different scriptures than you are–mine state that day seven was a day of rest.

    I majored in Biology at BYU. I grew up believing evolution to be a falsehood. Without an LDS high school science teacher (who was also a Bishop in his own ward) and wonderful BYU science professors, I would have continued believing evolution and the gospel were at odds, and would have had to choose one or the other. I’m more predisposed towards logic and reasoning than I am towards faith, so I think I would have stopped believing the gospel. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but had I not taken that class from that high school teacher, and had I not gone to BYU, it might have. The mindset that evolution and the gospel cannot coexist is toxic to the testimonies of those who make a serious study of biology.

  7. Bishop Rick —

    O.K. I misunderstood your reference. Again, the general point is still that the scriptures are there to teach spiritual principles. They are not, as Elder Talmadge noted, a biologic or geologic text.

    Tim — I wholeheartedly agree. I was at BYU when the Board of Trustees issued their package which states that the scriptures show “why” the world was created not “how”. The reason was because of those claiming that BYU shouldn’t be teaching evolution. Obviously, the Board of Trustees (At that time, I believe the chair was President Hinckley) didn’t have a problem with it.

    Those of us who appreciate the sciences find this kind of anti-science rhetoric very hard to swallow because it is so out of sync with what we observe.

  8. Bishop Rick,

    “Rob, seriously, there is not enough water. The mountains didn’t rise up and move above the water. There isn’t even anything scriptural to back that up.”

    Have you physically measured the water? There actually is scriptural reference-

    6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
    7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
    8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.
    9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

    (Old Testament | Psalms 104:6 – 9)

    These scriptures speak of the flood when the waters stood above all the earth. Then, as spoken in verse 8-9 it speaks of the mountains and valleys being formed as a boundary so that the waters will no longer cover all the earth.

    Here is a link further explaining the Hebrew text-


  9. Tim,

    It may be unsettling to you but the church officially teaches that man did not evolve. Here is the commentary in the Ensign from the Brethren (2002)-

    “In the early 1900s, questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution became the subject of much public discussion. In the midst of these controversies, the First Presidency issued the following in 1909, which expresses the Church’s doctrinal position on these matters. A reprinting of this important First Presidency statement will be helpful as members of the Church study the Old Testament this year.”

    Later in the article it says this-

    “It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declared that Adam was “the first man of all men” (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race.”

    So, according to the official doctrinal position of the church, man did not evolve from a lower order of animals. The church thus in turn says those are the theories of men (referring to mans evolution from animals).

    As for man being formed on the seventh day-

    5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;
    6 But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
    7 And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 3:5 – 7)

    Here it is explained that as of yet, at the end of the six creative periods/days there was not yet flesh (physical bodies) found upon the earth. The Lord also explains that no life exists on the earth yet because he has of yet not caused it to rain. Then, on this seventh day he causes it to rain and foms man and places him on the earth as the first flesh (meaning the first of all living life).

  10. “And I, God, blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it I had rested from all my work which I, God, had created and made.” Moses 3:3.

    And I’m certainly happy that the rest of the church doesn’t buy into your idea that Mormons and evolution are incompatible, or else my ward would be without its bishop, YW leader, and EQ President. Ouch.

  11. Rob,

    Here are a few articles about teaching of evolution (by professors who believe in it) at BYU and BYU-Idaho.


    Click to access v4n2_firestone.pdf


    Of note, none have your take.

    Consider that these folks are hired by and maintained in their position by a Board of Trustees that are mostly General Authorities.

    Evolution explains creation. It doesn’t detract from the reason why or God’s role.

  12. This is a fantastic overview evolution and the LDS church: http://www.mormonfortress.com/evolution.pdf

  13. Tim,

    The doctrine of man evolving from a lower order of animals is incompatible with LDS official doctrine. I am sure one can still be an outstanding LDS member believing in evolution. Just let it be known that mans evolution is not a part of what the church teaches.

  14. Rob,

    You are referencing earlier statements.

    The latest official statement was in the Encylopedia of Mormonism. It was edited by Elders Maxwell and Oakes and reviewed by the First Presidency. The key quote is the following: “The Scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again”.

    It says specifically that we (the church) don’t know how man was created.

    Of note, it is distributed to BYU and BYU-I students under the specific direction of the Board of Trustees (includes the First Presidency and most of the Quorum of the Twelve).

    If they (the GAs) don’t know, you certainly don’t.

  15. Steve,

    While it may be true that the church doesn’t specifically know how Adam was formed (whether it was through procreation of the Gods or whatever) the church does specifically know that it wasn’t from a lower order of animals through evolution.

  16. Rob,

    So, why do church schools teach exactly that? Why do they hire facility, in the relevant departments, who all believe exactly that?

  17. Rob,

    I’ll state my personal belief. I think God used natural processes to create the world, the plants and the animals. With respect to man, he created the spirits and infused them into the body. My own guess is that Adam was the first being with a God-given spirit.

    That comports with what I see in the record. And, it is not inconsistent with the scriptures.

  18. Church schools are accredited. That means that they have to tech certain aspects of it. There has always been a long age going battle between the zoology department and the Brethren. That is why there is an evolution packet included in the course material for taking any of the relevent classes. Part of that packet is the first presidencey statement on the origin of man stating that man did not evolve from lower orders of animals.

  19. Steve,

    I will state my personal beliefs. I believe Adam and Eve were formed through the natural process of procreation- born of heavenly parents. I also believe as the scriptures state that Adam was the first flesh, meaning he was the first of all the first to come before the animals. I further believe that all other life came about in this earth in similar fashions- each after their own kind. That is not incompatible with the scriptures.

  20. Rob,

    So church schools hire evolutionists and anti-flood geologists and teach the way they do because they HAVE TO. Interesting that an organization that would champion Prop 8 and oppose society on other matters would be afraid to tackle a few accrediting organizations. What a bunch of cowards.

    I was just reviewing some of the research that church schools are doing or have done — paid at least partially with tithing money. Evolution of the human genome over time. Evolution in Mexican dinosaurs. Evolutionary trends in micro-organisms. Behavior of burrowing Idaho dinosaurs. Evolutionary changes in sea fossils. Possible sources for DNA in prehistoric mammals. Adaption of human populations to disease through evolutionary change. Evolution of dinosaur species in the Cedar Breaks Formation. Changes in early mammals.

    By the way, you are only quoting a part of the packet. The last quote is the one I references which says we don’t know how man was created. It goes on to say that geology, biology and the other sciences are not the realm of church leaders. Their focus is salvation.

  21. Here is the exact quote from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article, edited by Elders Maxwell and Oakes:

    “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. . . .”

  22. I think Steve has a point–if the church was really against evolution, but wanted accredited church schools, it would get by on the bare minimum. The classes would be taught–but the extensive research on evolution (including the cover article on one of the two major science journals a few years back) would not happen.

    BYU has actually done some pretty impressive scientific research on evolution, none of which is required in order to gain accreditation. Hmmm….

  23. i am enjoying the debate between you too. I have been under the impression that intelligent design described the creation of the earth. if this is not correct, can you tell me what intelligent design actually describes?

  24. Bishop Rick:

    I don’t think prophets always understand what they’re being shown, even if they see flashes of literal truth. Prophets are motivated to seek truth by issues presentrf in their present day, even if understanding that truth sometimes comes with a broader view of history than they bargained for.

    The Book of Moses, IMO, falls in this category. I’ve written about how a scientifically trained modern seer might interpret such a revelation today at http://thefirestillburning.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/youve-read-this-post-before/


    Your arguments about water covering the earth clearly show that you understand that denser materials move toward the center of the earth, and “lighter” materials like water and air float on those layers. What does not appear to have occurred to you is that the rocks making up the bulk of the earth’s seafloor and its mantles are more dense than the granitic rocks that predominately form the continents. The continents float on the ocean basalts just like air floats over the continents.

    Furthermore, you can use the same fluid dynamics equations that form the basis of your daily weather forecast to discover that the mantle of the earth — the region between the thin outer crust and the iron core — vigorously convects like any other fluid with a viscosity. Because the viscosity of rock is high, flow rates are about as fast as fingernails grow, but they are unimaginably energetic and unstoppable. So mountains rise by the same laws that God uses for everything else. He invokes no special process and then makes the traces disappear to deceive us.

    The theological problems of such a deceiving God make the theological problems of evolution trivial by comparison. If the scriptures and nature are both of God, which lying God are we supposed to believe?

    What we’re supposed to do as believers is work to reconcile the conflicts in a way that is true to both our minds and our spirits.

  25. MH:

    Intelligent design is an alternative LEGAL framework designed to get around the constitutional requirements that torpedo the teaching of creationism in the public schools. It’s critical distinction is that the ID framework must NEVER assert that the Designer is God. (Rob let the cat out of the bag and crossed over into Creationism when he did so.) That crosses the Constitutional boundary. Of course, the OP recognized that this is not about science or religion, it’s about cultural power.

    As a scientific theory that does NOT invoke a super-natural God, ID explains nothing. It asserts that today’s complexity is too unlikely to have arisen out of natural evolutionary processes. But the next question then becomes, “Who designed the Designer?”

    Because certainly the Designer must be vastly more complex than the design. So if the complexity of life on earth can’t arise without a Designer, there must also be an Intelligent Designer of the Intelligent Designer, and so on, forever.

    Rob is right that evolution does cut to the heart of LDS theology, of course, which I think is Bishop Rick’s point, too.

    Basic LDS theology ties the physical to the spiritual through mechanisms and assumptions that are foundational. Reconciling the findings of science and faith are, I am sure, possible, but the work on the theological engine has hardly even begun. It’s not going to be a minor tweek.

  26. Just so everyone knows the real truth, here is what ID is really defined as-


    Is ID different than creationism? Yes-

    No. The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism typically starts with a religious text and tries to see how the findings of science can be reconciled to it. Intelligent design starts with the empirical evidence of nature and seeks to ascertain what inferences can be drawn from that evidence. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design does not claim that modern biology can identify whether the intelligent cause detected through science is supernatural.

    Honest critics of intelligent design acknowledge the difference between intelligent design and creationism. University of Wisconsin historian of science Ronald Numbers is critical of intelligent design, yet according to the Associated Press, he “agrees the creationist label is inaccurate when it comes to the ID [intelligent design] movement.” Why, then, do some Darwinists keep trying to conflate intelligent design with creationism? According to Dr. Numbers, it is because they think such claims are “the easiest way to discredit intelligent design.” In other words, the charge that intelligent design is “creationism” is a rhetorical strategy on the part of Darwinists who wish to delegitimize design theory without actually addressing the merits of its case. (http://www.intelligentdesign.org/whatisid.php)

  27. Steve,

    The reprinting of the origin of man in the 2002 Ensign trumps everything to that point. In that official publication the Presidencey affirms that the church’s official stance regarding human evolution to false. In that document it is stated that man is the literal lineal son of God-

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity.” There is no mistake here. Where did man come from? Where did he originate from? From the very offspring of Deity.

  28. Rob,

    I am growing tired of the circular nature of this discussion.

    So, now, you are taking the position that a 1909 statement that says man is in the form of diety shuts off explanation of how creation works.

    I assume you mean by that the 1991 statement by the First Presidency and Twelve that stated we don’t know how was seriously offbase. You better get to the church schools and block its distribution. And, i am sure that the schools better cut off their use of tithing money to study evolution and fire the offending faculty. You better hurry. A bunch of those projects are going on right now.

  29. Steve,

    Take your case to the church, they are the ones who republished the origin of man and stated it was the official stance of the church.

  30. Rob,

    I think i am done. You claim that the 1909 statement means something that the brethern don’t see.

    But, standing as the only true defender of the faith must be frustrating.

    I’m going back to my rocks that show no worldwide flood and my fossils that show the inspiring advance of the species. And, tomorrow I will thank God for the magnifecence of his creation.

  31. Rob:

    “Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design does not claim that modern biology can identify whether the intelligent cause detected through science is supernatural.”

    Precisely the legal point I noted. You have to remember to stay on message, Rob, and not start talking about God or quoting Scripture to maintain that intelligent design is different from creationism. It’s noble to stand for what you believe on the creation versus evolution issue — if you insist on making it a “versus” issue — but if you believe that a supernatural God created the universe, you don’t win the rewards of being valiant in testimony by disguising the testimony.

  32. FireTag

    I have always maintained that my religious views are supported by ID. Evolutionists claim the same thing so go bug them too.

  33. Steve,

    Read the entire articles posted below. Rob is only following what is taught by the LDS church. If modern LDS members are not in accord with these doctrines, then it would appear that they have strayed from LDS teachings.

    This is the official statement made by the First Presidency of the LDS Church in 1909, and reprinted in a 2002 Ensign article:


    This is a 1998 Ensign article that quotes Howard W Hunter in stating that both the Global Flood and Tower of Babel were actual events and that LDS fall in the camp of literalists:


    It would appear that if you disagree with Rob, you disagree with actual LDS teachings. You refer to actions of today. Today’s actions are not the same as yesterday’s doctrine.

    After all, isn’t Truth Eternal?

  34. I promised myself I would stay out of this but, Bishop Rick, you’ve baited me back.

    First, the 1909 statement is focused on the point that man is in the form of deity. On the issue of how man was created, the determinative statement is the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article, edited by Elders Maxwell and Oakes and specifically approved by both the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It says we don’t know how man was created and that it is for scientists to make that determination, not church officials. Read it above in detail. As noted, repeatedly, above, this is ending part of the packet distributed at all of the church schools. Claiming that the church opposes evolution is a method to bludgeon opponents. But, it is flat out false. President Hinckley stated that he didn’t find anything in his learning in science inconsistent with the gospel. Elder Oakes specifically allowed evolution and stopped attempts to censor it when he was President of BYU. I am willing to bet a considerable amount that President Eyring, like his father, is comfortable with the science. Claiming the church is hostile utterly ignores the statement distributed today to LDS students, the kinds of faculty that is hired at church schools and the tithing money that is spent on research projects on evolution.

    As to the flood, the article you are quoting is almost embarrassing. It is written by someone who hasn’t spent 30 minutes in the field examining the geologic evidence. It quotes President Hunter’s believe (note, not a revelation) that the flood was worldwide. Of note, FAIR (which is very close to the church) supports the local flood hypothesis. I guarantee that there is not one — and I emphasize the number — geologist at any of the church schools who backs that up. I know Elder Eyring strongly opposed that idea as rather silly.

    I must underscore how utterly without merit the worldwide flood idea is. There is not one ounce of evidence. Those who make the claim are not in the field.

    If it were true, here is how it would have to work . . . Before the flood, every life form, from very primitive to very complex, was on the Earth. During the flood, lifeforms drowned in the order of complexity. So, the very last ones must have been primitive, manlike organisms and Ice Age mammals. Then, after the deposits were formed, all the sediments were transformed to deceive. Sandstone which contains desert animals and sand dunes was really deposited by water. Mudstones that contain small sticks and other stream debris must have been just part of the deluge. Yeah, right.

    I find this discussion very discouraging . . no wonder LDS science students wonder if they have a place.

  35. MH: To answer your original question, I fear that those of fundamentalist bent really do want to drive those who disagree from Mormonism.

    The strains of biblical literalism I have seen here are truly frightening. Joseph Smith stood up to this attitude with his declaration that the Bible was not the literal word of God but a document passed through the minds of men. But, today, there are many Mormons that are not much different than the most rigid evangelical. Scary.

    What I fear for are the children raised in these homes. Their ability to succeed in the real world will be severely hampered. Probably should stay away from college. Keep the home schooling up. Sad. Sad.

  36. Steve, I wholeheartedly agree with you. All I am saying is that Rob is not alone in his beliefs and has Church-sanctioned articles, that have gone through Correlation, to back up his claims.

    There is obvious disconnect in official LDS discussion of these topics. This is what drives members nuts and drives them to blogs like MH to find answers.

    I have been through many LDS Sunday School lessons on the Old Testament, where Rob’s views are what are being taught. They are being taught straight from Official LDS Lesson Manuals.

    My point is that for every Official packet that you come up with that supports Evolution, localized flood, etc., I can come up with an Official document that backs creationism, global flood, tower of babel, etc.

    I think these things are as embarrassing as you do, but Rob is following mainstream LDS thought and teachings (Ensign, Sunday School Lesson Manuals). He is not exposed to the BYU Student packet. Most LDS members are not either for that matter.

  37. Rick,

    I appreciate your comments. I was about to slit my wrists.

    You are right. I wonder if the problem is that the hierarchy is afraid of resolving the issue definitively because they afraid that members can’t handle resolution. I’ve always thought President McKay’s reaction on the issue so interesting. He supported the science but didn’t want to embarrass Elder Smith.

    I wonder if that is still pretty descriptive today.

  38. I think that’s it exactly. Half the members would be perfectly content with the resolution but the other half would feel they had ice water thrown on them.

  39. @Rob Osborn


    I apologize. My comment came out more harshly than I intended. Your RELIGIOUS views are supported by creationism. ID depends for its difference with creationism PRECISELY on NOT attaching it to a religious belief. You may believe the universe is created by Vorlons, to use a scifi example, but you do not worship Vorlons. You study them, making it arguably permissible to be taught as a hypothesis.

    Since I fully represent myself as believing in both God and evolution, I have no need to go bug someone who openly represents himself as believing in evolution. I’ve been known on occasion to bug people who don’t believe in God, I must admit.

  40. Here is a question for you.
    Why do people believe in God?

    Seriously, on the surface, God is merely here say.
    Try to answer without using warm fuzzies as a reason.

  41. Steve,

    Its truly amazing how differently minds can think. I feel that my children will actually have an advantage by learning the truth by applying faith in what the holy word of God has said. I am a person of sound reason and logic. I question everything, including my own religion and its doctrine. I challenge my family to do the same. I personally believe that sound reason and logic will settle almost any dispute. As such I find it very useful to challenge popular beliefs when things don’t add up. For example- The church has never taught as official doctrine that man has evolved or that the flood was localized. Now I am not just talking about the Latter Day church (mormons), I am speaking of the church through all times and dispensations- since the days of Adam and Eve. Throughout every dispensation the church has shown and taught a direct lineal geneology back to Adam and from him directly to God. Also, every dispensation since the flood has validated its destruction and supported it as a worldwide event. Never in any dispensation has it been taught that it was a localized event.

    Certain promises were made through Enoch and Methuselah’s seed regarding the flood. Enoch was promised that after the global flood in Noah’s day, he would never again destroy all the earth with a flood. If it was a local flood then God is a liar and the historical accounts of our scriptures are a fraud! Methuselah was promised that through his seed should come all the inhabitants of the earth after the flood. This promise could only be true if the flood destroyed “all” flesh from off the face of all the earth. Now what makes this important is that there was a span of approximately 130 years of when the people knew the earth would be flooded before it actually occured. 130 years is enough time to migrate ones family to any far reaching place on the earth and escape some localizeed flood. It would also be enough time to move far away and repopulate the other side of the earth making the promise to Methuselah by God a lie and thus making the holy scriptures a fraud again!

    I dislike using that terminology with God and his word, but, we have a direct witness before God and his angels that the flood was global, that it did destroy all flesh from the earth and that only Methuselahs seed (through Noah) remained to repopulate the entire earth. Every one of us can trace our geneology back to Noah and from him back to Adam and from him to God himself. We literally have the seed of God inside of us. That is what our doctrine teaches, it doesn’t teach anything different. So using sound reason and logic I have set out to see the evidences themselves. Let’s take Mans supposed evolution for example-

    Science has spoken on the matter and has said that we are getting progressively more complex, live longer, more intelligent and such. On the contrary, according to historical documents (bible) man used to live longer, have more children, and used ancient tools with exact precision. This tells me that perhaps man has been de-evolving since he first came upon the scene. Another line of sound reason and logic is in the level of intelligence. The intelligence that man possesses cannot really be measured with the animal kingdom- even primates. Our intelligence is so astronomically high it begs the question of “why”? Our skull size and body relations are supposedely close to being on par with primates and yet their intelligence is nothing when compared to ours. Why are there not intermediate intelligences? Evolution says it was competition and we just killed off all the intermediates. If that is the case, why do we house and protect the weak in our society? Why is it that God doesn’t refer us as animals? Why does God refer us as his children while all other life is not? If man did evolve, then Adam and Eves literal parents would have probably been no different in intelligence, looks, etc, than their children. So why the cutoff with them and then start only from Adam? In sound LDS reasoning, man thus could not possibly have evolved, it would create too much of a gray line between the seed of Adam and the seed before him not being any different. LDS evolutionists want to gray this area by stating such things as – “well, Adams parents did not have the same type of spirit…” Nonsense I say. Adam and Eve could have only been born from like individuals sharing pretty much the same exact DNA and intelligence. This would thus mean that Adam wasn’t really the “first man of all men” like the scriptures repeat and would thus again make God out to be a liar and his holy word a fraud!

    Think about it for a moment, our faith relies upon the word of God being true. Our faith relies upon a Creator, an intelligent being. If we are truly the sons and daughters of God we certainly must carry the very seed of his loins in our loins. This is what distiguishes us and our knowledge from the knowledge and understanding of man. In the face of scientific evidences we continue to believe the Book of Mormon to be an actual historical account of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. this is in perfect light that science has repeatedly said the Book of Mormon to be a fraud. Sometimes we must just have faith that the word of God is true and that the promises he has made regarding Adam and his seed and the flood are true and historical in every aspect.

  42. BR:

    Was your question directed to me, or was it general?

  43. “Here is a question for you.
    Why do people believe in God?”

    I believe in God because no “naturalistic” answer add up. I truly find the testimony of God in all things.

  44. Just a general question that was prompted by your previous statement.
    Its a question I ask myself often.
    I’m still trying to find the answer.

  45. BR:

    OK — although most everything I write on my own blog is more or less related to that, so I can’t do my personal and partial answers justice in a single comment.

    Raised RLDS, my default setting was to believe in God. I don’t think I ever doubted that He existed. My teenage crisis of faith started as I began to realize how isolated I was in my religious beliefs. (LDS are almost 100 times more numerous as RLDS; there wasn’t a single member of my faith in my high school until my senior year, when a freshman moved in, and I didn’t know about that until I’d left for college.) I got really tired of being saddled with restrictions that seemingly no one else had to follow.

    My parents kept me involved in congregational and stake activities, but I also began to see that even my church youth peers weren’t ready to be serious about it yet in the way I was. I was ordained to the office of priest about the same time I began dating; we don’t normally ordain people to ANY priesthood office that young.

    As I studied the works of our Apostles and Presidency, I became more and more troubled by the judgementalism of the God I saw portrayed there. If I believed the teachings about love and brotherhood that we were supposed to be following, I often found myself wondering if it was my DUTY to oppose that kind of God.

    I eventually was twisting myself into emotional knots over this, to the point where I told God in private, tearful prayer that He would either clear this up, or I was walking away and being like any other teenager I saw.

    He spoke to me, less than 15 minutes later, through a younger child who had no idea she was carrying a message. Descartes should have said, “God speaks; therefore He is.” It would have saved me a lot of anguish.

    I still didn’t have my answers; that boy I was wouldn’t even have recognized the questions I ask today, let alone the conception of God I’ve come to hold during the search. But I knew in that moment, and many later moments, of grace that God had the best interests of all of us in mind. He was not the kind of God I had feared Him to be.

    Emotional experience? Maybe, but I long ago gave up the notion that the processing that goes on in my cerebral cortex is any less bio-chemical and evolutionary than the processing that goes on in the rest of my nervous system.

  46. I think we all are products of our environment. Kids raised in an LDS environment tend to lean in that direction. Kids raised in a Muslim environment lean in that direction, etc. Same could be said for an atheistic environment (Asia?). One man’s God is another man’s Allah, is another man’s chi.

    I just can’t help but feel that God is what WE make him/her out to be.
    All we do is debate what God’s intentions are/were/should be, or debate what God’s “servants” intentions are/were/should be, etc. Then we spend inordinate amounts of energy figuring out how to squeeze God into our paradigm.

    I don’t know man. I’m just not feeling it.

  47. We perceive what we have evolved to be able to perceive. Some influences on our perception are cultural, of course, because culture is a very important survival mechanism for human beings. I suspect the evolution of our “spiritual eyesight” is still very primitive, much as the first physical eyes are viewed in Darwinian terms as being little more than photoreceptors. But that can be enough to detect a predator or prey, and over time that matters. Eyes get better over generations.

  48. “evolved to be able to perceive.”

    You have got to be kidding, right?

  49. FT –
    “Eyes get better over generations.”

    This works for the Darwinian photoreceptors, but is hardly fair regarding spiritual eyesight.
    If we believe what we are taught, we are at the end of this journey and the 2nd coming is moments away. We are supposed to be the elect that usher in the millennium. It would seem if we haven’t evolved our spiritual eyes by now, it ain’t gonna happen.

    In my observation, we are evolving away from “spiritual eyesight” as we replace the need for religious answers with the need for truth and understanding.

  50. Rob:

    Deadly serious.


    I tend to think of the coming of the Kingdom as equivalent to the creation of a higher form of spiritual life. In LDS theology, humans end their individual spiritual journey (without thinking too much about how eternal progression actually works to avoid becoming eternally boring) and earth ends its spiritual journey with the Second Coming. Since I’m not LDS, and CofChrist hasn’t thought seriously about the nature of immortal life in decades, I feel free to think God is just getting started with us at those points.

    “Making man in our own image”, in my opinion, has to do with integrating our preexistent spirits into the physical realm without those spirits losing control to the physical (carnal) entities there. There are, have been, and will be an infinite number of copies of our physical bodies scattered throughout spacetime. Our individual human spirits share that collection of bodies the way our individual minds share the collections of neurons in our brains.

    I know that sounds bizarre, but it’s hard to escape the existence of the bodies given modern understandings of cosmology, so ultimately theology does have to reconsider whether its traditional understandings of the relationship between our bodies and our spirits needs modification. Before the end of the 20th Century, why would any prophet even think to ask the question. (Consider the Book of Moses in THAT light.)

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