from soc.religion.mormon:

Rpcman asked Mormons to comment on the article located here, and a BYU student (R) took the challenge.

R wrote:
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In short, the document cites Moses 2 and Abraham 4 as evidence for a Mormon scheme of physical creation which differs from mainstream scientific thought; however, Moses 2 and Abraham 4 are NOT the order of the physical creation of the earth, but instead the order of the SPIRITUAL creation as is clearly noted in Moses 3:5 and Abraham 5:5
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The author (D) of the above mentioned article comments:

It is true that Moses 3:5 and Abraham 5:5 say the earth (and other things) were created "spiritually" (whatever that means). However, these verses do not say the descriptions in Moses 2 and Abraham 4 were of the "spiritual" creation. R may choose to assume this, but it certainly is not clear. Consider the context of Moses 2, which begins with the words:

"And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God, by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, AND THE EARTH UPON WHICH THOU STANDEST. [emphasis added]"

Does this sound like some "spiritual" world, or does it bring to mind the physical world upon which Moses was standing? Which is the more reasonable and likely interpretation?

For those who may not have ready access to the Pearl of Great Price, according to Moses 2 plants were created before the sun, and land animals were created after whales. To say "[this] differs from mainstream scientific thought" is an understatement. Mormons who believe this creation myth is consistent with the theory of evolution stretch their faith to the point of absurdity.

Before leaving R's argument, I'd like to point out another fallacy. As with so many arguments offered by apologists, R's is more of a diversion. Upon closer examination, R's approach to the creation dilemma in Moses 2-3 offers no real solution to the contradictions between Mormon scriptures and the theory of evolution. To see this, let's pretend (for the sake of argument) that Moses 2 describes the "spiritual" creation. Even if chapter 2 describes the spiritual creation, chapter 3 certainly describes the physical creation. Consider Moses 3:7 which says:

And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul, THE FIRST FLESH UPON THE EARTH, THE FIST MAN ALSO; nevertheless, all things were before created, but spiritually were they created and made according to my word [emphasis added].

So, in one interpretation we have the sun being created after plants, and whales before land animals. Ludicrous, to say the least. In R's alternate interpretation, we have the mythical Adam as the "first flesh". One hardly need be an expert in evolutionary biology to understand that humans were not the "first flesh". We evolved from other animals. There were billions of generations of "flesh" before the first human flesh emerged.

Finally, before leaving, I should note a significant inconsistency between the Book of Mormon and the theory of evolution. According to the Book of Mormon, there was actually a first human named Adam (conflicts with evolution), and before Adam, there was no death (conflicts with evolution -- 2 Nephi chapter 2:22).

R continued:
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Then, the document wanders into quotations from Mormon Doctrine. As has been noted time and again, Mormon Doctrine, while it does contain doctrine, was Bro. McConkie's opinion and so has no bearing as an ultimate arbitrator in matters of doctrine, despite its misleading title and thoughts of misinformed LDS notwithstanding.
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D comments:

I like to think the document did not wander, but R is certainly entitled to his editorial opinion.

In the article, I explained who McConkie was, and I am willing to let people decide for themselves if he is more representative of Mormon theology than apologists such as R. I understand apologists have repeatedly denounced McConkie, but I do not believe their denunciations are shared by the greater Mormon community. Personally, I believe it is largely a waste of time arguing what is, or is not, "official" Mormon doctrine. Apologists will always find excuses to ignore their prophets when they say disagreeable things. What investigators need to remember, however, is that apologists such as R are a minority. For most active Mormons, it is enough when the prophet, or apostles speak. To me, it is sufficient that the Mormon church is a vehicle for disseminating and encouraging superstition and anti-science sentiment. R may find nothing wrong with this, but I personally expect more from the only true church.

R continued:
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Among the points made in this section is that: (The highest ruling body in the Mormon church, the first presidency consisting (at the time) of Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund issued an official declaration regarding the church's official stance on evolution. [Man: his Origin and Destiny, pp 354-355]. The statement is carefully worded and never answers the issue of evolution directly, as McConkie did, but the constraints laid down by the first presidency essentially precludes evolution from ever happening within the Mormon framework of theology. McConkie quotes large sections of this official pronouncement in "Mormon Doctrine", under the section on evolution.

Part of the reason that the actual text of this statement is not quoted (and on as long of a page as this, it could easily have been done) is that the statement does not unambiguously preclude evolution.
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D comments:

R, you say the reason the actual text was not quoted is because it does not unambiguously preclude evolution. You imply I was trying to hide the "true" meaning of the statement. Yet I acknowledged the statement was not definitive when I said:

"the statement is carefully worded and never answers the issue of evolution directly. [but] essentially precludes evolution from ever happening within the Mormon framework of theology".

You quoted this explanation yourself. Why do you presume to establish motive where none exists? Do you believe you have acted honestly in so doing?

Here is part of the statement by the first presidency (incidentally, you also could have provided this quotation, yet you did not. Why?):

"It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was the first of all men, (Moses 1:34) and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race."

R, why not simply address the issues instead of falsely describing my motives? The official statement on evolution specifically precludes human evolution. Do you deny this? Yet human evolution is as much a part of the theory of evolution as that of other primates. Do you accept the physical evidence for human evolution? If so, how do you juggle faith in a church that teaches that humans did not evolve?

R continued:
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The next section of the document points out silly statements made by Melvin A. Cook and M. Garfield Cook in "Science and Mormonism", which the document tries to give a doctrinal air to, by pointing out that the book was published by Deseret News Press "(owned by the Mormon Church)". Of course, as we need not remind the informed reader, being published by Deseret News does not make something doctrine - any more than appearing in the Deseret News does.
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D comments:

This is a strawman argument. I never said being published by Deseret News Press made something doctrine. I never even implied that. No honest reading of my comments could draw your conclusion.

The point of my comments regarding "Science and Mormonism" was to show the ridiculous conclusions that result when trying to use Mormon scripture as a basis for science. R apparently realizes this, since he failed to show how the arguments advanced by the Cooks do not actually follow from Mormon mythology.

Whatever one thinks of the Cooks, they did an excellent job of referencing the Mormon sources from which they derive so many of their comical ideas about cosmology.

R continued:
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The same point of what constitutes doctrine holds for the Old Testament Manual, Smith's "Doctrines of Salvation", Taylor's book "Mediation and the Atonement", Benson's "A witness and a Warning", etc.
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D comments:

Why not have a simple disclaimer that Mormon prophets are not to be trusted?

Let me point out (once again) that I generally avoid issues of what is or is not "official" doctrine. I believe it is sufficient to show that the Mormon church encourages or gives support to anti-evolution propaganda. I'm of the opinion that a church that supports superstition and anti-science -- whether officially or not -- is probably not associated with the true god (assuming he/she/it exists).

Suppose evolution was god's way of creating life. Does it make sense that god would choose a prophet who compares that method with the evils of socialism? This is what E.T. Benson did when he said:

"Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book [of Mormon] to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth." [A Witness and a Warning, page 6.]

What did E.T. Benson mean when he said the Book of Mormon should be used to combat organic evolution? Could it be that Benson and other Mormon leaders understand that the Book of Mormon and the theory of evolution are incompatible?

R, did you sustain E.T. Benson as a prophet, seer and revelator? Why have a prophet if the man is so deluded as to compare evolution to socialism? How can anything spoken by such a person be believed? I'm content to let honest investigators weigh the odds, and decide for themselves if god's true church would act as an agent -- officially or not -- for castigating god's method of creation.

R continued:
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Interestingly among the false statements propagated on this page toward the end is the following:

"In the past, the Mormon church has changed or modified a number of their doctrines. This virtually always happens in response to public pressure. Their denunciation of polygamy and polyandry (discontinued to achieve statehood for Utah) and their acquiescence on racist doctrines (they only recently admitted blacks to the priesthood) are two excellent examples."

It should be noted that the Church has never supported "polyandry".
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D comments:

My statement was not false. Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, practiced polyandry. He married the wives of other living men.

Fawn Brodie, in her book "No Man Knows my History" (a book that resulted in her excommunication from the Mormon church) does a good job of documenting Joseph Smith's wives, including those that were married to other (living) men. For a thorough discussion about Joseph Smith's wives, see pages 334 to 345 of Brodie's book.


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