Monday, May 28, 2012

The First Humans

In a pamphlet about The Plan of Salvation, investigators learn that Adam and Eve were "the first humans."

LDS.org > Menu > Manuals > Missionary

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed: A case study

LDS blogger BHodges concedes that the apostles and prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been nearly unanimous against evolution, but he attributes it to misconduct:

"This is largely the result of a very few General Authorities who ignored or acted counter to the direction of earlier prophets (who told GAs to leave the matter alone) whose publications drown out other authorities who found nothing objectionable about evolution per se but whom sought to abide the council so as not to cause further division." (BHodges, comment 49, here.)

His claims are false. The counsel "to leave the matter alone" is pure fiction. His comment is a twisted misrepresentation of events relating to a 1931 First Presidency memo addressed to general authorities. The memo was not about evolution, nor was it the result of any debate about evolution. And it certainly did not forbid anyone to speak or write against evolution.

The 1931 memo summarized the Church's evaluation of a priesthood manual submitted by B. H. Roberts.  The memo announced the Church's decision to reject the manual.

Roberts had marshaled the conclusions of geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology to support his theory reconciling fossils with scripture.  The decision of President Heber J. Grant was that neither the Roberts theory nor the conclusions of science belong in a priesthood manual:

"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."

This counsel applies specifically to Roberts' attempted use of science to interpret scripture. By extension, it applies to any attempt to force scripture to accommodate science. Its meaning is the opposite of what Hodges represents.

Boyd K. Packer and Russell M. Nelson have both written much that contradicts science, but they are in full compliance with the 1931 memo because they have not used science to interpret scripture. Bruce R. McConkie's writings also comply with the memo. He almost always preferred scripture over science.

After 1931 and before President Grant died, Joseph Fielding Smith published three books, in 1936, 1942, and 1944. Passages in each of these books contradict one or more scientific conclusions but none of them uses science to interpret scripture and none of them contains anything in violation of the 1931 memo.

Joseph Fielding Smith wrote books in 1947 and 1948 that were published by the Council of the Twelve Apostles. These books also contain passages that contradict scientific theories. The six most senior apostles at the time had served since before 1931. They were there. They knew firsthand what President Grant meant. It is absurd to suggest that they acted contrary to his instructions. The truth is, by publishing Smith's books, they were acting in accordance with President Grant's instructions.

Dallin H. Oaks says public criticism of other people is usually not a good idea, but public criticism of Church authorities is particularly objectionable. "Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself," he warns. Quoting George F. Richards, Oaks continues:

"When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause." (Ensign, Feb. 1987.)

The allegations made by Hodges in the above quoted blog comment are false. Spreading falsehoods about senior Church leaders is no way to promote evolutionary science among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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