someone on a.r.m said:
"..... as has been pointed out to you elsewhere, the issue of whether the Church supports Darwinian evolution or disapproves of it is a false dichotomy. Why not ask what the Church thinks of Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity?"

a former-mormon scientist comments:
Yes, why not. As a young boy growing up in the Mormon church in Seattle I was involved in frequent debates with my seminary teacher about the theory of relativity. He was adamant that the theory is inconsistent with Mormon doctrine. Of course, a single Mormon seminary teacher does not establish Mormon doctrine, but he does help define the Mormon experience.

someone continued:
The point is that evolution is a scientific theory, not a religious dogma, so the Church's official position is one of neutrality. The statements of some leaders notwithstanding.

a former-mormon scientist comments:
This argument is fallacious. The Mormon church is NOT neutral on a number of issues that are not strictly religious. The equal-rights amendment was officially opposed by the Mormon church, yet it is a political statement, not religious dogma. The idea that the Mormon church is neutral on any subject that is not religious dogma is ridiculous. At the end of this post I list dozens of quotations from Mormon prophets, apostles, seers, and revelators that show the Mormon church and its leaders are definitely NOT neutral on the subject of Darwinian evolution.

One simply cannot offer a credible argument on the subject by asserting that the consistent statements of Mormonism's most prominent priesthood leaders is not significant or relevant to the discussion.

someone continued:
A FAQ is in the process of being put together on Eyring-L to help people understand this better.

a former-mormon scientist comments:
A FAQ containing statements by prominent Mormon Priesthood leaders on the subject of Darwinian evolution would be most welcome. Following are a number of quotations that I submit for inclusion into the FAQ.

The official statement of the Mormon church on the origin of the earth and life is in Moses chapter 2 and Abraham chapter 4 in the Pearl of Great Price. The Pearl of Great Price is one of Mormonism's standard works. It is held by the Mormon church and its leaders as revelation from god, and official church doctrine. Chapter 2 is supposedly a revelation from god to Joseph Smith describing how god created the earth, and life on it. Chapter 4 basically repeats chapter 2, with some minor modifications. The heading for chapter 2 reads "As revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet, in December, 1830. The first verse reads "And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning the heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest."

So much for the oft-asserted claim by Mormon apologists, that their prophets never claimed to have communicated with god about how the earth and life were created. Please note that the creation story in the Pearl of Great Price was supposedly a direct revelation from god to Joseph Smith depicting a tutorial between god and Moses on the creation of this earth. Not surprisingly Joseph Smith's creation story is a modified plagiarism of the Hebrew creation myth found in the Bible. I have listed some of the claims of this official version below.

1. According to official Mormon doctrine, god created grass, herb yielding seeds, and fruit trees on day three (see verses 11-13). Then he created the sun on the fourth day (see verses 14-19). [Have Mormons ever wondered how these plants survived without the sun?].

2. According to official Mormon doctrine, god created the earth and dry land on day three (Moses 2: 9-13) and then created the sun and moon on day four. According to the best theories of how the solar system formed, the sun formed first. The planets formed later in the solar system's development through a gradual process of accumulation. Here, in Joseph Smith's fanciful fairy tail, we have an earth complete with grass and fruiting trees before the sun is made. Furthermore, the implication seems clear enough that god created the stars on the same day he created the sun and moon (Moses 2:16; 3:1, Abraham 4:16). The best theories of the moon's creation have it being formed when a planetesimal impacted with the early earth. This likely happened before any life evolved on earth, and most certainly would have killed any life on earth that had been "created" in the out-of-sequence story we find in the Pearl of Great Price. The idea that the stars were created after the earth is, of course ludicrous. The best scientific evidence has the earth being formed partially from the heavy elements that can only be created in a super Nova. [For a good introductory explanation of the formation of the solar system, earth, and life, I highly recommend The History of Earth by William K. Hartmann and Ron Miller].

3. According to official Mormon doctrine, god created water animals, whales, and birds on the fifth day (Moses 2:20-22) and then created land animals such as cattle on the sixth day (Moses 2:24-31). According to the theory of evolution, birds evolved from land animals, as did whales. In Joseph Smith's "revelation", however, we have god creating whales and birds before creating land animals.

Joseph repeated his creation myth in Abraham chapter 4. In this account, he has the "god's" creating grass and fruiting trees on the third "time", and then the sun and moon during the fourth "time" (see Abraham 4:9-19). Again, Joseph has the "god's" creating whales and fishes on the fifth "time", along with birds (Abraham 4:20-23) and then cattle and other land animals on the sixth "time", along with man (Abraham 4:24-31).

Mormons are the world's preeminent creationists. Other religions can waft away the Hebrew creation myth in the Bible as being allegorical, figurative, or simply borrowed from the Babylonians. Mormons could, if they chose, discount the Genesis account as a bastardized version long since corrupted by many translations. However, the Pearl of Great Price does not afford Mormonism any of these luxuries. Here in the book of Moses and the book of Abraham we find a personal tutorial from god to Joseph Smith describing the earth's formation and the creation of life. No millennia of translations. No corruption from the church of the devil. Just pure revelation from god to the founder of Mormonism. If Mormonism is true, then the creation account in the Pearl of Great Price should be verified by science. That Joseph's creation account is diametrically opposed to the best physical evidence is one of the best proofs I know that he was not inspired of god.

After you finish with the Pearl of Great Price, get a copy of "Mormon Doctrine" by Bruce McConkie. (Some individuals in the Mormon church view McConkie as a fallen prophet, but most do not. "Mormon Doctrine" contains only a small fraction of the quotes I'm providing here.) McConkie, by the way was sustained in general conference, along with other members of the Mormon "council of twelve apostles" as a prophet, seer, and revelator. To see just how significant this is in Mormon theology, read chapter 8 of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. Mormons believe that through their seers "all things [shall] be revealed." Most Mormons regard this book as an authoritative source of information about Mormon church doctrine. Look up the section on evolution, science, geology, and astronomy. In case you don't have a copy, or access to one, here are a few quotes:

"There is no harmony between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution." [page 256].

"Evolutionary theories assume that hundreds of millions of years were involved, first in the creation of the earth as a habitable globe, and again in the evolution of spontaneously generated, single celled forms of life into the complex and multitudinous forms of life now found on its face. We have rather specific scriptural indications that the creative period was of relatively short duration." [page 255].

"There were no pre-Adamites. Any assumption to the contrary runs counter to the whole plan and scheme of the Almighty in creating and peopling this earth." [page 254].

"Adam and Eve and all forms of life, both animal and plant, were created in immortality; that is, when first placed on this earth, all forms of life were in a state of immortality. There was no death in the world; death entered after the fall." [page 252].

The highest ruling body in the Mormon church, the first presidency consisting (at the time) of Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund issued an official declaration regarding the church's official stance on evolution. [Man: His Origin and Destiny, pp 354-355]. The statement is carefully worded and never answers the issue of evolution directly, as McConkie did, but the constraints laid down by the first presidency essentially precludes evolution from ever happening within the Mormon framework of theology. McConkie quotes large sections of this official pronouncement in "Mormon Doctrine", under the section on evolution.

Another reference is the June 1993 issue of the Ensign. The Ensign is the Mormon church's official magazine publication, and is used by the president of the church to convey official church doctrine. It also has "faith promoting" articles, and articles of general interest.

On page 21 there is an article by George R. Hill III, an emeritus member of the Quorum of Seventy. Members of the quorum of seventy are all general authorities. The quorum of seventy has equal authority with the quorum of the twelve apostles, and with the first presidency. The article by Mr. Hill illustrates the Mormon position on evolution better, I think, than most. According to Hill, evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics (untrue, by the way, and probably a lie since Hill, having a Ph.D. in chemistry, almost certainly knows better). He does not say whether or not evolution actually occurs, but says if it happens it must be directed by god.

Back to "Mormon Doctrine", by Bruce McConkie. Bruce shows how Mormon church theology is at odds with many other areas of science, besides just evolution. For instance, Mormons believe in a literal flood at the time of Noah, and that it covered the entire earth. According to McConkie, "In the days of Noah the Lord sent a universal flood which completely immersed the whole earth and destroyed all flesh except that preserved on the ark. (Gen. 6; 7; 8; 9; Moses 7:38-45; 8; Ether 13.2.) "Noah was born to save seed of everything, when the earth was washed of its wickedness by the flood." (Teachings, p. 12) This flood was the baptism of the earth; before it occurred the land was all in one place, a condition that will again prevail during the millennial era. (D&C 133:23-24)" [page 289]. Mormons cannot interpret the flood figuratively, or as just a local phenomena, because in Mormon theology the flood represented the literal baptism of the earth. Mormons teach that baptism must be by immersion. At a Mormon baptism there are always two witnesses who watch the person being baptized. If any part of their body comes above the surface of the water, they perform the baptism over.

This points out another area where Mormonism is at odds with modern science: Mormonism teaches that the division of the continents took place after the flood, within a matter of a few days or months, and that during the millennium the continents will all be pushed back together (D&C 133:23-24).

Mormonism teaches that until about 2,000 BC all the people on earth spoke the same language, and that the Biblical story of the tower of Babel was literally true (see the first few chapters of the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon).

Another excellent reference that illustrates the impossible reconciliation between Mormonism and science is "Science and Mormonism" by Melvin A. Cook and M. Garfield Cook, Printed by Deseret News Press (owned by the Mormon church). Copyright 1967 (this is likely to be a difficult book to find, I personally prize my copy and don't loan it out. It was given to our family by my son's Mormon seminary teacher in an effort to convince my son of the evils of evolution).

The book's main objective is to show that modern science is wrong about a host of things, and that Mormonism's blend of 19th century popular science and mythology is really the way things are. Here is just a brief summary of some of the "scientific" Mormon doctrines given by Cook:

1. The sun gets its energy from god's home planet, named Kolob. Cook interprets this as saying the sun shines by accretion of matter and not thermonuclear processes. Cook takes his argument from the Book of Abraham (in the Pearl of Great Price, one of Mormonism's standard scriptures). By the way, read the Book of Abraham, it is the source of many of Mormonism's false notions about cosmology. I highly recommend it. It's a relatively short book. You can probably read it in less than an hour.

2. The rotation of a large planet named Kolob is god's primary time standard (page 52 - taken from the Book of Abraham). I personally like this the best. Even our civilization, crude as it must be, has time standards that are far more accurate than the rotation rate of even a large planet. Whoever wrote the Book of Abraham certainly never heard of gravity waves or tidal forces that tend to slow down the rotation of planets.

3. Electrons orbit the nucleus of atoms just like planet orbit the sun (chapter 5) [Keep in mind that the Cooks supposedly have advanced degrees in Chemistry and wrote this in 1967. For the non-scientists among us, electrons DO NOT orbit the nucleus of an atom like planet orbit the sun. Most children learn this before the enter high school.]

4. Prayers travel faster than the speed of light (chapter 5)

5. Humans and dinosaurs coexisted (page 145 - the Cooks take a large amount of their material from Dr. Morris at the ICR. The so-called tracks that the Cooks use to prove Mormon theology, by the way, are in Texas, and are proven fakes.)

6. Melting ice caps caused the Noachian flood (page 156).

7. Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. This one, in particular, frustrates me. Of all people, you'd think that a Chemist with a Ph.D. would know that the second law applies to closed systems. For anyone wanting a good discussion of how evolution does not violate the second law, I recommend Dawkin's book The Blind Watchmaker.

Another good reference is the Old Testament Student Manual for Genesis -2 Samuel. This is the manual used in some Old Testament studies classes at BYU and other Mormon schools. The 1980 copy I have was prepared by the Church Educational System, and published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On page 34 it says:
"Of course, I think those people who hold to the view that man has come up through all these ages from the scum of the sea through billions of years do not believe in Adam. Honestly I do not know how they can, and I am going to show you that they do not. There are some who attempt to do it but they are inconsistent - absolutely inconsistent, because that doctrine is so incompatible, so utterly out of harmony, with the revelations of the Lord that a man just cannot believe in both.

" ... I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory [of evolution] of the origin of man, and at the same time accept the plan of salvation as set forth by the Lord our God. You must choose the one and reject the other, for they are in direct conflict and there is a gulf separating them which is so great that it cannot be bridged, no matter how much one may try to do so....

"... Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for, according to this theory [of evolution], death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible. Are you prepared to believe such a thing as that?" (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:141-42)."

On page 36 it says:
"Here are the facts; here are the evidences; here, then, are the sound reasons for believing life originated through a creative act. It is time that each individual has the opportunity to know the facts and to make an intelligent choice." (Coffin, Creation, p. [15])."

On page 58 it says:
"The dividing of the earth [Genesis 10:25] was not an act of division by the inhabitants of the earth by tribes and peoples, but a breaking asunder of the continents, thus dividing the land surface and creating the Eastern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere. By looking at a wall map of the world, you will discover how the land surface along the northern and southern coast of the American Hemisphere and Europe and Africa has the appearance of having been together at one time. Of course, there have been many changes on the earth's surface since the beginning. We are informed by revelation that the time will come when this condition will be changed and that the land surface of the earth will come back again as it was in the beginning and all be in one place. This is definitely stated in the Doctrine and Covenants. [D&C 133:18-20 is then cited.]" (Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:73-74.)"

Finally, there is the corner stone of the Mormon church, the Book of Mormon itself. Few scientists would subscribe to many of the Book of Mormon's claims regarding ancient American civilizations. Among other things, the Book of Mormon claims that several large civilizations in ancient America originated from transplanted Hebrews, that they used horses, camels, elephants and wheeled chariots, and dressed for war like Roman soldiers.

The following is from the "Old Testament" Student Manual, Genesis through 2 Samuel. This manual was prepared by the Church Educational System and is published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm quoting from the second edition, revised. Copyright 1980, 1981 by corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Begin quote:
In the world another theory of how things began is popularly held and widely taught. This theory, that of organic evolution, was generally developed from the writings of Charles Darwin. It puts forth different ideas concerning how life began and where man came from. In relation to this theory, the following statements should help you understand what the Church teaches about the Creation and the origin of man.

"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 declares 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. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our heavenly Father." (First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], as cited in Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 4:205.)

"Any theory that leaves out God as a personal, purposeful Being, and accepts chance as a first cause, cannot be accepted by Latter-day Saints ... That man and the whole of creation came by chance is unthinkable. It is equally unthinkable that if man came into being by the will and power of God, the divine creative power is limited to one process dimly sensed by mortal man." (Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1:155)

"I am grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father's children there has been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the origin of man, that we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some of the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor is God our heavenly Father." (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1925, p. 33)

"Of course, I think those people who hold to the view that man has come up through all these ages from the scum of the sea through billions of years do not believe in Adam. Honestly I do not know how they can, and I am going to show you that they do not. There are some who attempt to do it but they are inconsistent - absolutely inconsistent, because that doctrine is so incompatible, so utterly out of harmony, with the revelations of the Lord that a man just cannot believe in both.

"... I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory of the origin of man, and at the same time accept the plan of salvation as set forth by the Lord our God. You must choose the one and reject the other, for they are in direct conflict and there is a gulf separating them which is so great that it cannot be bridged, no matter how much one may try to do so....

"... Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for according to this theory, death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible. Are you prepared to believe such a thing as that?" (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:141-42.)

The following quote is from President John Taylor's book "Meditation and the Atonement". John Taylor was a prophet, seer, and revelator in the Mormon church.

Begin quote:
These principles do not change, as represented by evolutionists of the Darwinian school, but the primitive organism of all living beings exist in the same form as when they first received their impress from their Maker. There are, indeed, some very slight exceptions, as for instance, the ass may mix with the mare and produce the mule; but there it ends, the violation of the laws of procreation receives a check, and its operations can go no further.

The following quote is from Ezra Taft Benson's book "A Witness and a Warning", page 6. Ezra Taft Benson, who recently died, was a prophet, seer, and revelator in the Mormon church.

Begin quote:
Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book [of Mormon] to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth.

The following is quoted from "The OLD Testament Student Manual Genesis - 2 Samuel". This manual was prepared by the Church Educational System and is Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The quote is from the second edition, copyright 1980, 1981 by Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Quotes taken from pages 35 and 36.

(Note 1: I've taken quotes that are sometimes separated by several paragraphs, partly because quoting the entire lesson would be excessive and take too much time. I highly recommend that anyone interested in knowing the Mormon church's position on evolution get a copy of the student manual and read the entire lesson. The quotes below are mostly secondary quotes in the lesson manual, taken from Coffin's books on creation and evolution.)

Begin quote:
In the world another theory of how things began is popularly held and widely taught. This theory, that of organic evolution, was generally developed from the writings of Charles Darwin. It puts forth different ideas concerning how life began and where man came from. In relation to this theory, the following statements should help you understand what the Church teaches about the Creation and the origin of man. ....

"Anyone interested in truth must seriously consider these points. The challenge they present to the theory of evolution has led many intelligent and honest men of science now living to reevaluate their beliefs about the origin of life." (Coffin, Creation: The Evidence from Science, p [1].) ....

"Another scientist, impressed with the odds against the chance formation of proteins, has expressed his opinion as follows: `The chance that these five elements [carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur] may come together to form the molecule, the quantity of matter that must be continually shaken up, and the length of time necessary to finish the task, can all be calculated. A Swiss mathematician, Charles Eugene Guye, has made the computation and finds that the odds against such an occurrence are 10^160 to 1, or only one chance in 10^160; that is, 10 multiplied by itself 160 times, a number far too large to be expressed in words. The amount of matter to be shaken together to produce a single molecule of protein would be millions of times greater than that in the whole universe. For it to occur on the earth alone would require many, almost endless billions (10^243) of years.' [Frank, Allen, "The Origin of the World - by Chance or Design?" in John Clover Monsma, ed., The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, p. 23.]" (Coffin, Creation, pp [3-4].) ....

"What you have read so far is not new. This problem has been known at least since the time of Charles Darwin. If progressive evolution from simple to complex is correct, the ancestors to these full-blown living creatures in the Cambrian should be found; but they have not been found and there is little prospect of their every being found. ....

"On the basis of the facts alone, on the basis of what is actually in the earth, the theory of a sudden creative act in which the major forms of life were established fits best." (Coffin, Creation, pp [5-6].) ....

`Here are the facts; here are the evidences; here, then, are the sound reasons for believing life originated through a creative act. It is time that each individual has the opportunity to know the facts and to make an intelligent choice." (Coffin, Creation, p. [15].)

These references, while extensive, are not exhaustive. I could go on and on. Hopefully, this short list of references will adequately convince anyone interested in Mormonism that the church really is adamantly anti-evolution. In the past, the Mormon church has changed or modified a number of their doctrines. This virtually always happens in response to public pressure. Their denunciation of polygamy and polyandry (discontinued to achieve statehood for Utah) and their acquiescence on racist doctrines (they only recently admitted blacks to the priesthood) are two excellent examples. In the future, as the scientific evidence mounts and the church's doctrines come under ridicule by even their own members, I expect the Mormon church to alter its doctrines on evolution. Until then, however, Mormons are squarely in the center of the fundamentalist camp in their opposition to evolution.


Part 2 of this dialogue in which the author responds to a member who thinks he has it wrong


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