Thursday, April 1, 2010

Anti-Darwinism in the Church

I was sitting in a combined Youth Sunday School meeting when the teacher started to say something like, “How could anyone believe in Darwin and believe that we came from apes? We are children of God!” Then one of the smart (sometimes smart-alecky) young boys asked a question, “So Darwin got it all wrong?” His question was not acknowledged.

I sat uncomfortably in my seat and knew that I had to say something quickly before the moment had passed. I raised my hand without knowing what I was going to say but I knew I had to say something. The teacher saw my hand and called on me. I took a breath and tried to speak with a calm voice.

I said slowly, “Without disrupting the rhythm of the lesson, may I humbly interject a point about Darwinism. The issues of evolution have been debated many times by good Latter-day Saints at BYU and the Church has decided that we are not required to disbelieve that all life including human beings could have evolved from simpler life forms. I only want to bring this up now because this is the third time in about the last six months where I have heard the idea taught in Church that we do not believe in Darwin. But the reality is that the Church does not have an official position on human evolution even though most of our parents, grandparents, and many Authorities in the Church have spoken out against Charles Darwin. We, in fact, are not required to be anti-Charles Darwin nor anti-human evolution. The reason I want to make this point clear is because I think there are some kids in this room who might study science in college and decide that there is good evidence to conclude that humans did indeed evolve from lower life forms. And I don’t want those individuals to have memories of being taught anti-Darwinism in Church and thus needlessly feel that they are at odds with the Church.”

The teacher looked at me with a blank face and then moved on.

Some days later I spoke to the teacher to make sure that she was not offended by my comments. She seemed to be okay but has now probably categorized me as being a little odd.

The first book that I recommend on this topic is, Evolution and Mormonism, by Trent D. Stephens and Jeffrey Meldrum. This book gently shows how the LDS Church is not officially creationist even though most members and leaders are.

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