Friday, February 01, 2013

Three fallacies used to reconcile human evolution with the gospel

I remember the first time I heard an LDS scientist say human evolution could be reconciled with the gospel. I was impressed until I found out how it's done:

FALLACY ONE: Some LDS scientists argue that the anti-evolution teachings of earlier prophets and apostles like Joseph Fielding Smith are unreliable because those teachings came during a different scientific age. It is claimed that those same Church leaders would embrace human evolution today.

But here's the fallacy of that argument: Living prophets and apostles are speaking today about human evolution and they are not embracing it (click here).

FALLACY TWO: Some LDS scientists argue that Mormonism's open scripture canon allows them to view human evolution as a revelation from the book of nature, a revelation that supplants current and official Church teachings about the origin of man. They anticipate that continuing revelation will eventually catch up with science on this issue.

However, no book of nature has been canonized and Church members are taught to be suspicious of anything that contradicts the standard works or the teachings of living prophets and apostles.

FALLACY THREE: It is claimed by some LDS scientists that the First Presidency once commissioned science to search for and discover the origin of man. One particular biology professor has taken this as a personal mandate. He claims the same First Presidency told the rest of us not to disagree with science on this issue. His claim is pure fiction, completely erroneous.

This fallacy grossly misrepresents something the 1931 First Presidency said about an unpublished priesthood manual. The manual incorporated conclusions of geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology. The First Presidency said such things do not 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.”

These words refer to the rejected manual and they mean the opposite of what certain scientists claim.

CONCLUSION: Changing the gospel to accommodate human evolution is not the same as changing one's thinking about human origins to accommodate the gospel. LDS evolution scientists are not authorized to change the gospel.

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