Saturday, October 28, 2006

A non-Mormon author's view of Mormon position on evolution

Perhaps you'll think it too vain, but I'm always interested to hear what people are saying about Mormons. When Mormons are mentioned in a news report, my ears always perk up, especially on a national show. (We end up in the news a lot in the Utah news as you might expect.)

I was watching a video lecture about the junction of science and religion, with the subject of evolution teaching in schools being a prominent part--always a hot topic. After the speech (which didn't turn out to be terribly interesting) there was a lengthy question and answer period which proved to be much more enlightening.

One of the questioners brought up the Mormons and their view on evolution. The speaker was prepared to clarify the Church's official position on evolution. Perhaps you'll be interested to hear what at least one non-Mormon think. The video of the lecture is here and the question occurs at 28:10.


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  • That was very interesting, particularly because I encountered similiar questions when I taught geology at UVSC. My first reaction was somewhat negative--the "separation" between "Sunday" and academics is troubling to me, because I think you can only do that for a very little while before one eclipses another. But as I think about it longer, I'm wonder if perhaps I separate my world-views without realizing.

    I wonder this particularly because I don't have solid answers about evolution. I believe science is trying to understand the process, I believe that we don't have all the answers, I believe that evolution fits the data the best of all hypotheses at this time. I also believe that a loving Father in Heaven created us (and didn't abandon us afterward). I don't know what "created us" means, though. I don't THINK I have a problem with it happening through evolution, although obviously I have some quesitons about it.

    All of this is a long way of saying that I'm don't think I completely reject the idea that Mormons separate science and religion--we just have to do it with our eyes wide open and aware of the points of agreement and disagreement between the two "sides".

    By Blogger Keryn, at 10/28/2006 10:09 PM  

  • Although I know that Mormons separate evolution and religious beliefs, that is not the whole story. Many see it as a non-religious question that happens to interesect with religious doctrine. Its not that they believe one and not the other (as it seems implied on the tape, although for some that is true), as much as they are two sides of the same coin.

    I have tried to explain this with Garden and Evolution post at my own site. The difference is that science deals with how God does something, and religion is why. The discussions are different although the same subject.

    By Blogger Jettboy, at 10/29/2006 3:27 PM  

  • First, can I just say that the people asking questions from the audience (especially the guy after the question you pointed us to) are straight out of a Woody Allen movie. Very amusing watching audience members try to out-intellectual one another.

    On topic: I much prefer to have our prophet say (as the speaker indicated the prophet said to him) that he is not bothered by evolution than to be in the camp of all the fundamentalist Christian religions which fight evolution outright.

    As the speaker said, we all compartmentalize to some extent, but I don't think Mormons are particularly more prone to compartmentalizing on this topic than other religious people. In fact, I think we might be less prone because we have at least some tradition of church leaders who accomodated evolution within their religious beliefs (BH Roberts, Widstoe, Talmage, etc.).

    By Blogger JandS Morgan, at 10/29/2006 5:06 PM  

  • Jettboy, I enjoyed your post. Thanks for linking to it. I had missed it earlier.

    Jacob, the real question isn't really compartmentalization. It is, why can some random author get to interview President Hinckley on this subject and I can't? I'm his cousin for crying out loud! :)

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 10/29/2006 9:03 PM  

  • Well, 9th cousin twice removed might be part of the problem, but still, it has to be better than that random author. :)

    By Blogger JandS Morgan, at 10/29/2006 10:00 PM  

  • Bradley, have you actively tried to interview him? Just wondering.

    By Blogger Jettboy, at 10/30/2006 8:31 AM  

  • Hahaha. Well, I know a BYU student that asked Merrill Bateman via email, while he was President of BYU, to join him for a Jamba Juice. Elder Bateman took him up on it.

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 10/30/2006 8:42 PM  

  • The questioner's commentary makes a good point for being careful about stating the positions of others when you don't hold (or think you don't hold) a similar view. The questioner was trying to sound very informed when he was not. The lecturer handled the situation with great aplomb, stating a more correct understanding without offending the questioner.

    There are some good lessons in this exchange beyond the actual origin of life theme.

    By Blogger Scott Hinrichs, at 10/31/2006 4:17 PM  

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