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New Church History Essay on Evolution


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21 minutes ago, cinepro said:

Can you explain your theory of creation (and understanding of the word "paradisiacal") in a way that evolution would be possible on a "paradisiacal" planet that had no mortality or death on it?

You seem to be using a form of creation that was instantaneous. All your quotes talk about after the creation not during. It's pretty clear from the accounts of the creation we have that the creation wasn't finished until after Adam was placed in the garden, and given the usage of seventh day in the creation accounts, the day of rest was part of it too. So anything until at least that point isn't dictated by "immediately after the creation".

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12 hours ago, cinepro said:

You used the word "debate" when describing the "old" prophets and the "new" ones. Nelson being the Prophet, where are you seeing any "debate" with what was said by JFS or other anti-evolution prophets?

I was referring to the difference in perspective of more fundamentalist Latter-day Saints who view old prophets as more true or more authoritative in some way than modern prophets, vs others who believe the opposite.  I have personally had this debate several times with different people on this board, and also with my brother.   JLHPROF, for example sees the church at its pinnacle and most polished at the time of the restoration, and as time passes he sees the church as becoming tarnished as it tweaks principles and teachings.  The more fundamentalist members see the church as a perfectly round polished stone at the time of the restoration, but as the stone rolls along through time it gets dinged, chipped, and scuffed as it looses its original luster and strays from the original teachings.  The other side views the church as a rough stone rolling, starting out rough with sharp edges at its inception, but as it rolls forth it becomes more smooth and polished like a river rock as the shard edges are smoothed down.  They view it as more progressive in truth.  That is what I had in mind when I made my comment.  I was commenting on the divide and debate between those 2 schools of thought. 

Also, I was using the word "prophets" in the general sense and not in reference to the Presidents of the church only.  Henry Eyring is a prophet, for example. 

12 hours ago, cinepro said:

I'm also curious about your classification of a belief as being a "personal one". What other kind of belief is there? Aren't all of President Nelson's (and everyone else's beliefs) "personal"? Describe what President Nelson would say about evolution if it wasn't "personal" but was some other kind of belief.

 Yes, all beliefs are personal, but personal beliefs are not the same as official church position.   Not all personal beliefs of the prophet rise to the level of official position of the church.  Those are two different things that I am attempting to distinguish between.  While President Nelson expresses his personal belief against evolution, the official position he espouses for the church, as the President of the church is this:

Quote

“the Church has no official position on the theory of evolution”

 Do you see the difference between his personal belief that he espouses and the official position of the church that he espouses?   

Edited by pogi
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9 hours ago, cinepro said:

Nelson says this:

Quote

The creation of a paradisiacal planet came from God

 

Explain to me how evolution is possible on a planet that is created in a "paradisiacal" state. Maybe share your understanding of what "paradisiacal" means first.

President Nelson is simply recounting the components of the plan of God, and that could be explained as described in the post here.  

Why do you suppose President Nelson would allow the publication of the new church essay on Organic Evolution as linked in the opening post, which leaves open the possibility of evolution, if he taught against evolution?

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10 hours ago, JustAnAustralian said:

You seem to be using a form of creation that was instantaneous. All your quotes talk about after the creation not during. It's pretty clear from the accounts of the creation we have that the creation wasn't finished until after Adam was placed in the garden, and given the usage of seventh day in the creation accounts, the day of rest was part of it too. So anything until at least that point isn't dictated by "immediately after the creation".

Don't worry about the form of creation I'm using. Explain to me your theory of creation that involves some form of organic evolution but doesn't directly contradict RMN's statement that:
 

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The creation of a paradisiacal planet came from God.12 Mortality and death came into the world through the Fall of Adam.

If you are theorizing a period of "creation" in which there was evolution and mortality, and death was a part of that evolutionary process, in what way could it be said that mortality and death hadn't already "come into the world"? Specifically, what do you think it means when RMN teaches that it was a paradisiacal planet when it was created?

Edited by cinepro
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2 hours ago, InCognitus said:

President Nelson is simply recounting the components of the plan of God, and that could be explained as described in the post here.  

Why do you suppose President Nelson would allow the publication of the new church essay on Organic Evolution as linked in the opening post, which leaves open the possibility of evolution, if he taught against evolution?

What do you think it means when RMN says it was a "paradisiacal creation", and that the planet was "paradisiacal"?

It's not a very common word; we most usually hear it in Article of Faith 10, where we state that the Earth will be "renewed" and recieve its "paradisiacal glory."

Do you believe that in this pardisiacal state, there will continue to be mortal death and evolutionary change? What is the difference between the current state of the planet and a "paradisiacal" state?

The "Organic Evolution" essay doesn't actually say anything that resolves the contradiction between basic LDS doctrines of the creation (and fall) and the theory of evolution. It certainly doesn't say "God used evolution to create the different forms of life on this planet" or "there were pre-Adamites and countless generations of birth and death before the Fall". It's reiterating the Church's desperate detante. Church leaders understand many members find rejecting the theory of evolution untenable, but also find rejecting the Church untenable. So they continue to teach things about a "paradisiacal creation" and "death" coming into the "world" via the fall of Adam, but then say "it's okay to believe in evolution". And as long as no one asks too many questions, people come up with extremely creative word redefinitions (and ignore what they can't redefine) to convince themselves that it all works.

But it doesn't. Sorry. And as shown by that Liahona article, the Church hasn't really gotten much better about this. If there was no physical death on the planet before Adam's fall, then there was no evolution by natural selection. If there was physical death on the planet, then the world didn't need to "fall." It was already fallen.

I'm not suggesting there aren't tons of members of the Church who believe in evolution (especially since I'm a member and absolutely believe in evolution, along with a mythical Adam and Eve), and surveys seem to suggest at least 40% do (with 50% not). I'm just questioning the idea that there is any debate between current leaders and past leaders over the scriptures/teachings/doctrines that totally contradict the theory of evolution.

 

Edited by cinepro
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4 hours ago, cinepro said:

Church leaders understand many members find rejecting the theory of evolution untenable, but also find rejecting the Church untenable. So they continue to teach things about a "paradisiacal creation" and "death" coming into the "world" via the fall of Adam, but then say "it's okay to believe in evolution". And as long as no one asks too many questions, people come up with extremely creative word redefinitions (and ignore what they can't redefine) to convince themselves that it all works.

But it doesn't. Sorry. And as shown by that Liahona article, the Church hasn't really gotten much better about this. If there was no physical death on the planet before Adam's fall, then there was no evolution by natural selection. If there was physical death on the planet, then the world didn't need to "fall." It was already fallen.

I'm not suggesting there aren't tons of members of the Church who believe in evolution (especially since I'm a member and absolutely believe in evolution, along with a mythical Adam and Eve), and surveys seem to suggest at least 40% do (with 50% not).

You seem to suggest that "it doesn't" work to believe in evolution and believe in the church, but yet here you are...  How do you personally make it all work?  If you can make it work, why can't others? 

4 hours ago, cinepro said:

I'm just questioning the idea that there is any debate between current leaders and past leaders over the scriptures/teachings/doctrines that totally contradict the theory of evolution.

 I think it is clear that there is disagreement between many past and present leaders, as well as between present leaders whose interpretations of scriptures must differ significantly.  As to how much debate is happening between the leaders, who knows (you misunderstood me if you think I made such a claim)?  Probably not much.  I think they are focusing more on other matters more pertinent to the salvation of mankind. 

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Latter-day Saints and their leaders found themselves on both sides of this issue. James E. Talmage and John A. Widtsoe, two professional scientists who became Apostles, regarded scientific discovery of truth as evidence of God’s use of natural laws to govern the universe.11 Meanwhile, Apostle and future Church President Joseph Fielding Smith believed that the Biblical account of the Creation did not allow for the long spans required for species to multiply through evolution.

As time went on, faithful Latter-day Saints continued to hold diverse views on the topic of evolution.14 Joseph Fielding Smith in his influential writings maintained the reliability of scripture as a guide to the Creation timeline. Henry Eyring, a prominent scientist and Sunday School general board member, welcomed evidence of evolutionary change and reiterated the teachings of Brigham Young, who taught that the gospel encompassed all truth, scientific or otherwise.15 In 1965, Church President David O. McKay worked with Bertrand F. Harrison, a botany professor at Brigham Young University, to foster greater understanding between Saints with differing viewpoints on evolution.16

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/organic-evolution?lang=eng


 

Edited by pogi
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4 hours ago, cinepro said:

Explain to me your theory of creation that involves some form of organic evolution but doesn't directly contradict RMN's statement

If I may interject myself into this discussion, I personally don't bother. With cosmology, I find myself pulling the "product of their time" prophetic fallibility card most of the time. Moses and Abraham seem more influenced by the dominant geocentric cosmologies of their day, Joseph Smith seems to be heavily influenced by the "steady state" eternally existing universe of his day, and Pres. Nelson is probably heavily influenced by having grown up and come of age during the time after the Scopes trial as Creationism got imported into our traditions (though the Church never officially adopted Creationism) from broader Christian Fundamentalists.

From what I have read into his writings, some of why Elder Fielding Smith spoke against evolution was how such a rejection of the "literal" reading of scripture might lead to people picking and choosing what parts of scripture and the words of prophets to believe and what to reject (leads to cafeteria Mormonism). Perhaps I am evidence of how evolution leads to that place.

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5 hours ago, cinepro said:

Explain to me your theory of creation that involves some form of organic evolution but doesn't directly contradict RMN's statement that:

Based on the points he's mentioned following that section, he's clearly talking about human progression. Given that we have no doctrine on plants or animals needing an atonement (since we have no evidence of them being able to sin), I have no need to lock myself in to making human death and mortality (in a doctrinal sense) mean the same thing as anything else.

I've already mentioned elsewhere on this board that God said that Adam and Eve could eat fruit. If they ate a fruit, the fruit would die, so clearly death was around.

6 hours ago, cinepro said:

Specifically, what do you think it means when RMN teaches that it was a paradisiacal planet when it was created?

No idea. But if it's anything like the state of paradise post death, then it would be peaceful and sin-free.

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On 7/26/2022 at 4:34 PM, JustAnAustralian said:

Based on the points he's mentioned following that section, he's clearly talking about human progression. Given that we have no doctrine on plants or animals needing an atonement (since we have no evidence of them being able to sin), I have no need to lock myself in to making human death and mortality (in a doctrinal sense) mean the same thing as anything else.

 

But as recently as 2019, this is what the Church was teaching in the Liahona:

 

Quote

“This first temporal creation of all things … was paradisiacal in nature.”2 Immediately after the Creation, nothing was mortal or subject to death.3

What do you think they mean by "nothing was mortal or subject to death"?

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On 7/26/2022 at 11:35 AM, cinepro said:

What do you think it means when RMN says it was a "paradisiacal creation", and that the planet was "paradisiacal"?

It's not a very common word; we most usually hear it in Article of Faith 10, where we state that the Earth will be "renewed" and recieve its "paradisiacal glory."

Do you believe that in this pardisiacal state, there will continue to be mortal death and evolutionary change? What is the difference between the current state of the planet and a "paradisiacal" state?

The "Organic Evolution" essay doesn't actually say anything that resolves the contradiction between basic LDS doctrines of the creation (and fall) and the theory of evolution. It certainly doesn't say "God used evolution to create the different forms of life on this planet" or "there were pre-Adamites and countless generations of birth and death before the Fall". It's reiterating the Church's desperate detante. Church leaders understand many members find rejecting the theory of evolution untenable, but also find rejecting the Church untenable. So they continue to teach things about a "paradisiacal creation" and "death" coming into the "world" via the fall of Adam, but then say "it's okay to believe in evolution". And as long as no one asks too many questions, people come up with extremely creative word redefinitions (and ignore what they can't redefine) to convince themselves that it all works.

But it doesn't. Sorry. And as shown by that Liahona article, the Church hasn't really gotten much better about this. If there was no physical death on the planet before Adam's fall, then there was no evolution by natural selection. If there was physical death on the planet, then the world didn't need to "fall." It was already fallen.

I'm not suggesting there aren't tons of members of the Church who believe in evolution (especially since I'm a member and absolutely believe in evolution, along with a mythical Adam and Eve), and surveys seem to suggest at least 40% do (with 50% not). I'm just questioning the idea that there is any debate between current leaders and past leaders over the scriptures/teachings/doctrines that totally contradict the theory of evolution.

 

To my bold, like possibly over this?

kal00zvsc5e91.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/12/2022 at 4:42 PM, pogi said:

I also think there is good evidence for guided evolution in the case of genetic convergent evolution.  I think phenotypical convergence can be explained given random mutations and environmental pressures, but the genetic convergence of thousands of genes with identical genetic expression (bioluminescence, for example) with independent origins of distant unrelated species is not really able to be explainable given traditional understanding of evolution.  

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/brv.12672

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On 7/26/2022 at 2:53 PM, pogi said:

Yes, all beliefs are personal, but personal beliefs are not the same as official church position.  

What's the official church position on gambling, green tea, and exorcism rites?  

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On 7/26/2022 at 11:35 AM, cinepro said:

What do you think it means when RMN says it was a "paradisiacal creation", and that the planet was "paradisiacal"?

It's not a very common word; we most usually hear it in Article of Faith 10, where we state that the Earth will be "renewed" and recieve its "paradisiacal glory."

Do you believe that in this pardisiacal state, there will continue to be mortal death and evolutionary change? What is the difference between the current state of the planet and a "paradisiacal" state?

The "Organic Evolution" essay doesn't actually say anything that resolves the contradiction between basic LDS doctrines of the creation (and fall) and the theory of evolution. It certainly doesn't say "God used evolution to create the different forms of life on this planet" or "there were pre-Adamites and countless generations of birth and death before the Fall". It's reiterating the Church's desperate detante. Church leaders understand many members find rejecting the theory of evolution untenable, but also find rejecting the Church untenable. So they continue to teach things about a "paradisiacal creation" and "death" coming into the "world" via the fall of Adam, but then say "it's okay to believe in evolution". And as long as no one asks too many questions, people come up with extremely creative word redefinitions (and ignore what they can't redefine) to convince themselves that it all works.

But it doesn't. Sorry. And as shown by that Liahona article, the Church hasn't really gotten much better about this. If there was no physical death on the planet before Adam's fall, then there was no evolution by natural selection. If there was physical death on the planet, then the world didn't need to "fall." It was already fallen.

I'm not suggesting there aren't tons of members of the Church who believe in evolution (especially since I'm a member and absolutely believe in evolution, along with a mythical Adam and Eve), and surveys seem to suggest at least 40% do (with 50% not). I'm just questioning the idea that there is any debate between current leaders and past leaders over the scriptures/teachings/doctrines that totally contradict the theory of evolution.

 

It looks like I missed responding to this post.....

I thought I explained this when I said:  "President Nelson is simply recounting the components of the plan of God, and that could be explained as described in the post here. "

The "paradisiacal creation" is a stage in God's plan.  And I'll quote from OGHoosier's post directly here (the post I referenced in my linked post), since he uses the same language:

On 6/14/2022 at 7:26 AM, OGHoosier said:

Frankly these days I look on the whole story of the Fall as ceremonial script. After all, in practical terms, the Fall is something we all did. Adam and Eve ("man" and "woman") stand in the place of all of us in the temple ceremony, and I believe this points to a literal truth; we all Fell. We all chose to leave the paradisaical abode of God to come here. The temple clearly implies that this decision was made consciously by Adam and Eve, just as it was made consciously by us in the Council in Heaven. We all Fell, we are all Adam and Eve, and if Satan had access to us during the Grand Council then he would have to have access to our type-avatars (Adam and Eve) in Eden.

So what President Nelson said doesn't really "totally contradict the theory of evolution", but it might seem contradictory to some versions of evolutionary theory or some of the ways of explaining God's plan.   

Even God's entire plan is based on the concept of what we call "eternal progression".   And even in the short time we are here in mortality, we progress in our education and thinking throughout our lives.  I know my own thoughts and ideas on creation as it relates to evolution have evolved through the years.  Our church leaders should be allowed to do the same.

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On 6/19/2022 at 4:45 PM, Duncan said:

I just wonder, honestly, how much about evolution did Pres. Smith and Elder McConkie, did they ever study it to any real degree? if not who cares what they think about it? I'd take someone like Dr. Henry Eyring's opinion over theirs.

Evolution is the reason my dad couldn’t stand Joseph Fielding Smith and abstained from sustaining him as prophet. When my dad was a BYU student in the mid-1950s, his roommate was a biology major who revered JFS until he read “Man, His Origin and Destiny.” He thought the book was ill-informed and silly. He wrote a long, but polite, letter to JFS outlining some of the issues he saw in the book, hoping to get some kind of explanation or clarification. Instead, his stake president threatened him with a disciplinary council for “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed.” Dad said it caused his roommate to have a “nervous breakdown.”

It just seems to me that the church has moved beyond the dogmatism of McConkie and Smith, and that’s a good thing. When I took freshman biology, the professor made a disclaimer at the beginning of the semester that the class would discuss evolution without challenging church doctrines of the creation. Here’s hoping they don’t do that anymore.

 

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2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

the class would discuss evolution without challenging church doctrines of the creation. Here’s hoping they don’t do that anymore.

Why not?  Evolution doesn’t challenge church doctrine in the first place, imo.  It provides a different interpretation than many hold, but that is something quite different.

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1 minute ago, Calm said:

Why not?  Evolution doesn’t challenge church doctrine in the first place, imo.  It provides a different interpretation than many hold, but that is something quite different.

The implication was that it did challenge doctrine, which is is what I hope people don’t think anymore. 

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5 hours ago, DT_ said:

What's the official church position on gambling, green tea, and exorcism rites?  

That seems pretty random.  You can google them if you want, but it would be a derail of this thread for me to go down that road with you.

Edited by pogi
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8 minutes ago, pogi said:

That seems pretty random.  You can google them if you want, but it would be a derail of this thread for me to go down that road with you.

I'm trying to understand your definition of church doctrine. 

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

The implication was that it did challenge doctrine, which is is what I hope people don’t think anymore. 

I think enough people still think that way that saying at the beginning the way they teach evolution does not conflict and then just teaching it normally demonstrates it doesn’t.  Even better would be make it clear evolution itself does not conflict, the Church has no official position on evolution in fact and there is a topic on the Church’s website or a church packet if necessary available on evolution in the HBL library if anyone wants to study it in more detail, assuming it is still there. Perhaps though it has been replaced by the webpage:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/organic-evolution?lang=eng

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On 8/7/2022 at 1:33 PM, InCognitus said:

The "paradisiacal creation" is a stage in God's plan.  And I'll quote from OGHoosier's post directly here (the post I referenced in my linked post), since he uses the same language:

 

The "paradisiacal creation" is referring to the state of the planet Earth when it was created, before the Fall of Adam.

Please explain what you think it means for the Earth to be "paradisiacal", and how this is compatible with the idea of evolutionary creation, which involves countless generations of birth/death in order to work.

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On 8/7/2022 at 6:35 PM, Calm said:

I think enough people still think that way that saying at the beginning the way they teach evolution does not conflict and then just teaching it normally demonstrates it doesn’t.  Even better would be make it clear evolution itself does not conflict, the Church has no official position on evolution in fact and there is a topic on the Church’s website or a church packet if necessary available on evolution in the HBL library if anyone wants to study it in more detail, assuming it is still there. Perhaps though it has been replaced by the webpage:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/organic-evolution?lang=eng

 

Please explain what you think it means for the Earth to be "paradisiacal", and how this is compatible with the idea of evolutionary creation, which involves countless generations of birth/death in order to work. If there was birth/death and evolution going on, how was it different than the Earth after the fall?

 

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