Is Creationism Satanic?

June 5, 2012 | 54 comments
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Steven Peck, in his moving and mischievous little poem “My Turn on Earth,” more than idly suggests that Creationism is Satanic. Only evolution, in all its messy contingency, is compatible with the gospel and the truth of agency. I laughed out loud and clapped my hands when I read it.

In this short excerpt from the poem, God is doing some premortal counciling with his children about the plan and, along the way, he entertains the “star bringer’s” alternative. The star bringing suggests not just an alternate plan of salvation, but an alternate plan of creation as well:

Then star bringer held up his hand
And God nodded
Mother bid him rise

Stand still sweet parents swift and bright
Holding back darkness, wielding light

For I have found the Apollonian way,
No need for messes, wet with clay

No blood, no semen, or menstrual mess
No offal, sickness, age, distress

Make it craftily designed and certain,
Forget this grassy, slimish, verdan’

Here’s how . . .

(And the children listened as he spoke)

Tick tock tick tock
Turn the steel precision gear
Now wind up the iron clock

Metal to metal, key to lock
Torsion, tension, forces shear
Tick tock tick tock

I will teach you how to walk
Set courses given, never veer
Now wind up the iron clock

All is determined, never ad-hoc
All to metronome adhere
Tick tock tick tock

Set with pulley, tackle, block
Let all in lockstep-click appear
Now wind up the iron clock

Toward exact prediction flock!
And every outcome engineer!
Tick tock tick tock!
Now wind up the iron clock!

A lone figure walks in the distance, His head bowed,
As the machinist unfolds blueprints
Exact and precise and shows his devisings.

The figure knells and wonders, Is a less cruel way possible?
Can this cup be replaced?
Can complexity emerge from other than freedom,
variation, inheritance, selection?
Is the machinist right?
Is there another way?
The contriver in the distance can be seen
waving his hands and building a scale model
of a universe engineered to be set, certain,
no slop, all is measured and precise,
fixed, so that no surprises enter in.
Where all is arranged from the beginning.
And once in motion it starts to spin—
all ends are determined and from
the beginning laid.

Here, Peck raises a pointed question in a rather pointed way: if agency is crucial to the plan of salvation, why not let agency loose in the act of creation itself? Why should creation – any more than redemption – be a top-down, dictatorial affair? That kind of thing ruins the whole pie.

Is creationism fundamentally incompatible with our Mormon account of the plan of salvation? Must we, to be good Mormons, actually be good Darwinists?

We just might.

Go read the whole poem.

54 Responses to Is Creationism Satanic?

  1. Kent Larsen on June 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I thought the poem was by Gilda Trillim? She’s the Mormon “Fradique Mendes,” right?

  2. MC on June 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    “Must we, to be good Mormons, actually be good Darwinists?

    We just might.”

    I reeeeeeeeeally hope you’re just joking, goofing on people who think you can’t believe in evolution and be a “good Mormon”.

  3. Kent Larsen on June 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    MC, I don’t think he’s joking. And from what I’ve seen of the writings of Steven Peck, who “found” this poem, I’m fairly certain that he is not “joking.”

  4. BHodges on June 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Far be it from Steve to take credit for one of Mormonism’s greatest and most forgotten writers, Gilda Trillim, who wrote the above-referenced work.

    My answer to the Creationism thing is, yes, we Mormons ought to be among the best Darwinists.

  5. Adam G. on June 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    The argument is poetically quite attractive. Logically, dunno, because the idea of agency in creation runs up smack against the notion that man is literally in the image of God. To embrace that, you either have to accept some kind of guided evolution (i.e., not free) or some strong version of convergence (which means that evolutionary choices don’t really exist, i.e., are not free) or some kind of teleology (meaning that evolutionary choice isn’t really free) or else you have to add some fantastic freaks to the normal Mormon cosmology (like God foreseeing the result of the evolutionary process and creating Himself in man’s image). But I have a hard time accepting the notion that being a good Mormon requires throwing out the characteristic Mormon doctrine that man is in the image of God or conventional Mormon cosmology.

    As a practical matter, I know plenty of good Mormons who are creationists but none who laugh at or mock creationists. No doubt a deficiency in my acquaintance.

    Also, now that I’ve thought on it, I don’t really see the agency in evolution. Neither random mutation nor selection pressure are conscious agents that exercise choice. You’d either have to go full-on Orson Pratt or else you’d have to posit that evolution was a guided process, but one guided by angels or something who had choice and agency and the ability to screw things up. Neither possibility is wrong, but neither is in the ballpark of what defines a good Mormon either. They aren’t even cheering in the stands.

    The atonement is a much better argument for evolution. It even fits better with Peck’s poetic contrast between the clean order of Satan’s plan and the painful, bloody mess of evolution. See more here:
    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2008/04/the-myth-of-evolution-and-the-myth-of-the-fall/

  6. Kent Larsen on June 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I dunno, Adam. I don’t see anything in the poem that suggests agency in evolution on the part of the beings that are evolving. On the part of God and his agents, certainly, but you seem to be suggesting that agency on their part (e.g., guided evolution — which requires choice on the part of those doing the guilding).

    So, I’m not sure where you don’t see the agency in evolution, unless you are somehow assuming that the poem or someone else is suggesting agency on the part of the beings that are evolving.

  7. Tim on June 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    This passage was, for me, the most surprising section of the poem. I’m very rarely a huge fan of Mormon poetry, but this–this was brilliant.

  8. SteveP on June 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Adam these are good questions. For a long answer visit these posts and papers where I specifically address the evolution of a specific human form: Here and here. The short version is straight up random evolution can produce forms of strikingly similar forms. Cambridge professor Simon Conway Morris argues that the human form is likely an inevitable evolutionary form. He adds no teleology or guided evolution or (heaven forbid) Intelligent Design Creationism. An example of how identical niches create identical forms can be seen in saber tooth tigers on Earth. Two forms, both evolved from rat-like creatures, turned out almost identical in the marsupial line and the regular mammal line because they had to evolve with similar contrants for hunting large mammals. Stealth, claws to catch, and long teeth to stab just yield so many well-engineered forms. See the post above for pictures.

  9. greenfrog/Sean on June 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Kent,

    Of course, I can’t speak for Adam, but he and I may read the poem in the same way: that is, that it posits agency at all levels — not just the prime-mover teleology, but the agency of clown fish females that prefer the more colorful males as consorts, the agency of Neanderthals to sprinkle pollen over the corpses of their loved ones, the agency of a wolf that overcame its instinctual pack bonding to hang out with primates, instead. Agency in all it’s messy glory, in all its pre-human limited degrees. Heck, humans themselves only exercise agency within limited ranges of choice, understanding, and circumstances. Adam, did I misread your take?

  10. Adam G. on June 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    SteveP,
    I’m familiar with Conway Morris’ convergence idea–I mentioned it in my comment. But I think to say that evolution would inevitably end up with a humanoid form you have to accept a very, very strong form of convergence, one that seems pretty unlikely to me in our current state of knowledge. We can’t rule it out because we have too small a sample size, but I wouldn’t hang my hat on it. In any case, if your argument is that we were going to end up with the same result regardless of the “choices” made, I see that as more of a negation of agency rather than a celebration of it.

    Instead of seeing evolution as a celebration of agency as such, which in Mormonism I would argue means something much more like conscious choice by rational, informed agents under a moral framework that generates meaningful consequences, I would see the poem more as a celebration of creatureliness or materiality. Of things existing and doing their thing and being tied in with other things by virtue of it.

  11. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    To avoid talking past each other, let me reiterate that I’m talking about a version of convergence where evolution is bound to literally produce Man. Maybe with very minor differences green Orion slave girl style, but still Man. So that if we could wind back the clock 200 million years, we’d still end up with an intelligent species that differs from our humanity not much more than Aboriginals differ from Swedes.

    If you’re just talking something intelligent, tool-using, creative, and social, where both Moties and the Fithp could be made in the image of Man, I’m less sceptical of that level of convergence but I’m much more sceptical that it fits into Mormonism without some severe wrenching.

  12. Adam Greenwood on June 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Erratum–where both Motie and the Fithp could be made in the image of God.

  13. SteveP on June 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    “If you’re just talking something intelligent, tool-using, creative, and social, where both Moties and the Fithp could be made in the image of Man, I’m less sceptical of that level of convergence but I’m much more sceptical that it fits into Mormonism without some severe wrenching.”

    As Jim Faulconer has so eloquently written we really don’t know what it means to be embodied. That God is necessarily a earthy mammal of species _Homo sapians_, as such, is not one of the things I’m committed to. To insist that he is in order to maintain the denial of everything science points to as how life has evolved on this planet is too big of a leap for me–as some do. I know a lot about evolution on this planet. I know very little about God’s embodiment and so my commitments there must wait until I get further empirical data. However, given your comments, I think we could come to some agreement had we a few hours and a cup of hot chocolate before us.

  14. Bradley on June 5, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    “Must we, to be good Mormons, actually be good Darwinists?”

    Maybe we are and we just don’t know it. Our scriptures teach that the Earth has a spirit. We know that all life forms participated in the fall, not just us. Man just pushed the button. Since we are all in this existence together (and “we” includes all life forms including the Earth), well, it’s not a huge conceptual leap to consider that we aren’t as separate as we think from this Oneness of life.

  15. BHodges on June 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Adam G. says: As a practical matter, I know plenty of good Mormons who are creationists but none who laugh at or mock creationists. No doubt a deficiency in my acquaintance.

    As a practical matter, I know plenty of good Mormons who are creationists who mock, or accuse of apostasy, Darwinists. Certainly a deficiency in my acquaintance.

  16. Jax on June 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I know very little about God’s embodiment and so my commitments there must wait until I get further empirical data

    If you are waiting for earthly empirical data you are in for a long wait. God is known through revelation or is not known… He cannot be found in a test tube or be measured or observed. If you plan on your empirical data to come when you meet him, then I concur.

  17. pd on June 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    From the abstract: “We show that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans in Eurasia than with present-day humans in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before the divergence of Eurasian groups from each other.”

  18. SteveP on June 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    “He cannot be found in a test tube or be measured or observed.”

    Ah, Jax I’m humbled you’ve been reading my other poem.

  19. pd on June 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Now I fold you down, my drunkard, my navigator,
    My first lost keeper, to love or look at later

    Anne Sexton

  20. Kent (MC) on June 5, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Blake Ostler once stated that he believes God the Father may have received a body from our planet Earth just as Jesus did. Very Sci-Fi feeling implications in that idea, but was it prior to an Adam and Eve and did his parents have souls like ours?

    Also, while I’m at it, does anyone argue for the resurrection of individual Mosquitos? Can we find a use for the concept of reincarnation here, or at least a certain intelligence threshold for resurrectable creatures? Algae, bacteria? They can share the Earth’s spirit.

  21. E on June 6, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Funny. I believe creationism IS satanic. The ultimate philosophy of men, mingled with scripture.

  22. Tatiana on June 6, 2012 at 2:49 am

    I answer the question of “how can evolution be true and we also be made in God’s image” by thinking it means His mind, His spirit and ours are similar, since He also likely came from some evolutionary process somewhere. Also at His level of advancement, it’s likely that He can choose what form his body takes, and he chose our form so He could speak to us.

    As for where the choice comes in with natural selection, which drives evolution, I see it in the very first beginnings of new species and variants. An example is the birds in Britain who learned to pull caps off of milk bottles, and began drinking from them. In that case, the milk companies made a stronger top, but had they not, had milk been a natural food in the environment, one can see that beak specializations would naturally follow, and then quite likely a new species of bird would emerge which was specially adapted for drinking from milk bottles.

    Thus we see that the very first step in speciation is simply an individual with a difference, a new idea, a new way of earning a living in the world. The agency lies there, in that initial choice. That is what generates the paths available for species to follow. All of our minor quirks and choices potentially point the way toward new paths for life to follow.

  23. Adam Miller on June 6, 2012 at 6:40 am

    #9 greenfrog says: “Of course, I can’t speak for Adam, but he and I may read the poem in the same way: that is, that it posits agency at all levels — not just the prime-mover teleology, but the agency of clown fish females that prefer the more colorful males as consorts, the agency of Neanderthals to sprinkle pollen over the corpses of their loved ones, the agency of a wolf that overcame its instinctual pack bonding to hang out with primates, instead. Agency in all it’s messy glory, in all its pre-human limited degrees. Heck, humans themselves only exercise agency within limited ranges of choice, understanding, and circumstances.”

    ASM: Nice. I think this is more or less exactly what I have in mind, though I’d also like to extend a kind of raw prehuman agency/independence even to nonliving entities. (And, by saying this, I don’t mean to imply a kind of Prattian panpyschism.)

    #10 Adam G says: “Instead of seeing evolution as a celebration of agency as such, which in Mormonism I would argue means something much more like conscious choice by rational, informed agents under a moral framework that generates meaningful consequences, I would see the poem more as a celebration of creatureliness or materiality.”

    I agree that this is what we often mean by agency in Mormonism and I agree that this kind of agency (to the extent that it exists) is important, but I also agree with greenfrog that this definition is probably much too narrow. For example, I doubt that this very idealized definition of agency as involving conscious, rational agents acting within a moral framework applies to anything more than even a very small percentage of the ways that full-blown human beings normally exercise agency.

    We can disagree with this in terms of choosing a starting point, but I would rather understand the fundamental feature of creatureliness or materiality itself as a native agency. This is, I think, what it would mean to be a materialist: to claim that matter has a local, native agency that is not Mind dependent or determined in advance by overarching laws/ideals/essences but, instead, that Mind/ideals/laws/essences are themselves the contingent product of always local material interactions.

  24. John Mansfield on June 6, 2012 at 6:55 am

    “Also at His level of advancement, it’s likely that He can choose what form his body takes, and he chose our form so He could speak to us.”

    This fanciful conjecture highlights one aspect of this topic. Standard Mormon thought on the nature of the Father and our relationship to the Father, the sort you might find in a General Conference talk, has a pragmatic, non-fantastic quality to the extent that some critics fear that it diminishes God. That puts our thinking on a level that religious ideas can conflict with scientific understanding. Here we see the science-minded Mormon dealing with that by moving her thinking of our Heavenly Father into a direction closer to that derived from fairy tales so as to avoid any conflict with science.

  25. John C. on June 6, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Of course, for some science-minded folk, there is no religion without fairy tale, so take what you can get.

  26. Adam G. on June 6, 2012 at 8:42 am

    The whole idea of choosing a body is repellent. It treats the spirit as the real substance and the body as a waldo, like an app. Its also contrary to the Mormon idea of the resurrection as union. Finally, I think its contrary to the whole Mormon idea that materiality is good, since I see materiality as inherently about limitations in location and form. One is here and not there. One is thus and not otherwise. “These bonds are my liberation.” The idea of shrugging on and off one-off flesh is to Mormonism as being a player is to marriage. If you want bizarre cosmologies, much better choices would be arguing that God is multiple bodies at the same time, one for each intelligent species. Flesh polygamy, to extend the marriage comparison. Or that there is a God (or line of Gods) for each possible material form that intelligence takes.

    ———

    If we take bacteria multiplying or skinks sunbathing to be an exercise in agency, I think that pushes us toward a compatibilist conception of agency. Which I don’t object to, but thats the implication.

  27. Adam G. on June 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

    All this genial speculation aside, saying that creationism is a satanic ideology is still a nasty and unbecoming slur on less-educated or less-wordly saints.

  28. Tatiana on June 6, 2012 at 11:52 am

    John Mansfield, (25), I don’t see it as fantastical in the least that a being could engineer and grow a body for himself or herself, or offspring. I see it as the natural end product of our ability to generate better and better prosthetics for those injured or born with birth defects, and the sophistication of their control. They presumably can incorporate tissue grown in place or in the lab. We are unlocking the secrets of such growth even now, learning how our bodies shaped our original limbs, and how they might be persuaded to regrow limbs, even customized ones, if we choose that. Once a brain can directly control a prosthetic (made of tissues, or otherwise), and receive feedback signals from it, it becomes increasingly difficult to decide what counts as part of a person’s body. This, to me, is plain good sense and foresight. Not at all a fairy tale.

    Adam G., (27) how repellant choosing a body may seem to us is likely to change over time with better and better technology. Once, most people thought conceiving a baby in vitro was a repellant idea, and the first test-tube baby (so called) Louise Brown, was made a huge deal in the media at the time. Now, of course, it’s a commonplace and just seen as a natural way to help otherwise infertile couples conceive.

    Certainly the way the spirit and body interact is a mystery on par with any, and no doubt you “are what you eat”, or your spirit will take on different characteristics depending on the architecture of the body and especially of the brain. We can study these mysteries by looking at people with prostheses today, such as those who have been given sight or hearing by implants, who formerly lacked it. How much change does that effect onto one’s spirit? I’m sure it’s hard to say. But no doubt we will learn more as we get more and more experience with subtler and better prosthetics.

    You bring up waldoes, and that’s quite interesting. People who spend a lot of time working waldoes do report that they begin to feel like extensions of their own bodies. I doubt it will ever be so easy we speak of “shrugging” on and off different bodies, but it will certainly be possible if our technology keeps on improving, in other words if human don’t go extinct quite soon.

  29. Adam G. on June 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t have that certainty at all. It presumes way too much about the spirit-body interaction that we don’t know about.

  30. MC on June 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    “All this genial speculation aside, saying that creationism is a satanic ideology is still a nasty and unbecoming slur on less-educated or less-wordly saints.”

    Just imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth if someone were to say here that those who espouse Darwinism are Satanic. But calling creationists Satanic? I nearly hear the crickets chirping…

  31. Kristine on June 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    “All this genial speculation aside, saying that creationism is a satanic ideology is still a nasty and unbecoming slur on less-educated or less-wordly saints.”

    No it isn’t, since anti-Darwinism is not the least bit Mormon–maybe it’s a slur against Seventh Day Adventists and George McReady Price, whence the most virulent creationist rhetoric among Mormons is borrowed. Saying creationism is Satanic is squarely in the Mormon tradition of denouncing other religious creeds as abominations.

  32. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Young Earth Creationism is definitely wholly dependent on the Pagan philosophy about God that infects the current version of the Nicene Creed. It assumes a God that is immaterial and outside of time, who creates time, space, and matter/energy out of nothing. Since God creates everything observable, he can make the universe LOOK like it is 14 billion years old, and make the earth LOOK like it is 4.5 billion years old. Why God would WANT to mislead mankind about these things is a question that is not answered.

    Since the Creation is totally by fiat, there is no need for long stretches of time for natural processes to expand the universe, coalesce galaxies, form stars, create all the elements in nuclear fusion and supernova explosions, and then create a new generation of stars and planets, and then allow life to develop and diversify on them.

    Insisting that the days of creation describe the creation of the entire observable universe is odd, because other than “let there be light”, there is no discussion of the parts of creation beyond the earth, sun and moon. There is no specific mention of the planets, which were well known even in the time of Abraham. There is of course no mention of galaxies. Young Earth Creationism claims to be a complete explanation of the universe, but it offers no reason for the billions of stars in our Milk Way Galaxy, let alone the billions of other galaxies and phenomena we can see. Why bother creating things that no one can see with the naked eye?

    The insistence of Young Earth Creationism on a particular literal interpretation of Genesis Chapter One, one which many religious people like Saint Augustine did not feel compelled to adopt, makes it something of an idol, whose worship is demanded as a gateway to being allowed to worship Jesus. Nowhere in the Old or New Testament do we see anyone with prophetic or ecclesiastical authority insisting that a literal reading of Genesis One has any importance for a person’s salvation. It never appears as a part of a catechism for nominees who wish to be baptized. At the most, the statements in the New Testament merely insist that God is the Creator, that mankind is created in his image with a special mission, and that every seventh day must be set apart to remember God is our Creator who has given us the gift of life. Making a children’s book version of the Noah story a litmus test for Christians is also without biblical foundation. Indeed, many of the ways that these common narratives depart from ordinary physics and geology are actually NOT in the bible itself, but in meta-narratives we have created about them, many of them for our children. We leave out the fact that most of the animals loaded onto Noah’s Ark are going to be eaten during a year long voyage. Many times the three sons of Noah don’t make it into the story, along with their wives and children. The mental picture we have of water coming out of nowhere to raise the sea level to top Mount Everest, and then going away to return sea level to what it was before, is NOT in Genesis. It simply describes the rain as covering the earth, not the oceans covering the earth.

    In other words, Young Earth Creationism is a particular man-made theory that has been engrafted onto the Bible, in exactly the way that the God of the creeds–the unmoved mover, without body, parts or passions, simultaneously three distinct persons but of one “substance” (a word not defined in the Bible)–was created by men drawing up specifications for the God they would LIKE to worship. Because it depends on and promotes a false picture of God, it too is false.

    I have the feeling that creating a universe of billions of galaxies is a lot harder than is believed by devotees of Young Earth Creationism. YEC dishonors God by fsailing to acknowledge his achievement.

  33. Adam G. on June 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    The prime basis of creationism, Mormonism or otherwise, is a naive reading of scripture and distrust of elites. If that’s Satanic, practically everything is, because you’re just using Satanic as a synonym for wrong.

    This could be amusing in its way. ‘The good news is that 95% of your child’s answers on the test were non-Satanic. The bad news is that he cheated.” Oddly, this takes us back into the hyper fundamentalist territory where ‘Satan made me do it’ and dark forces are at work when my pipes leak. Anti-creationists have been staring into the abyss too long.

  34. ji on June 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    It seems to me to that Satan laughs whenever someone points the finger of scorn at someone else.

  35. Adam G. on June 7, 2012 at 9:12 am

    The final problem with the notion that LDS agency theology (or to use my uglier terms, creaturism or materiality theology) requires believing in evolution is that it isn’t true.

    Even under the strictest versions of young earth creationism, there is still room for creatures to be self-directed, once created. And there is still room for these creatures’ self-direction to affect others and even man; or so environmentalism, epidemiology, pet-lovers, cattlemen, and grizzly bear warnings tell me. YEC is compatible with creaturely self-direction. What YEC doesn’t do is offer the same scope for creaturely self-direction that unguided evolution does. But LDS theology doesn’t tell us what scope for self-direction creation must have, since LDS theology recognizes other goods.

    It would not be a major blow to Mormonism if scientists tomorrow discovered significant proof of guided evolution or even of some kind of creation event. Its a mistake to make current science to insistently part of one’s religious beliefs.

    A more modest claim is in order: not that LDS belief requires evolution, but that it is pleasingly congruent.

  36. Adam Greenwood on June 7, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Update:
    RTS argument that creationism dishonors God by not recognizing how hard he had to work to create a universe billions of years old that nonetheless achieved his purposes suffers from the same difficulty. That is, LDS belief doesn’t tell us that God must create things in the hardest way possible. There is no a priori reason to believe that it would be contrary to divinity to choose a simpler or more efficient route to the same end. So the argument really boils down to an assertion that since God *did* go the harder route, claiming he didn’t depreciates him. But whether or not God did go the harder route is precisely the point at issue. So the argument boils down to the assertion that ‘if I’m right, you’re wrong,’ which is formally true, but not very useful.

  37. Pelekesi on June 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

    One way to have agency and still get the outcome you want is just to have a lot. So this life did not choose to evolve towards humaness, so what this life over here did. This world did not make choices that led to its bringing forth life – but this world over here did. This proto-solar system did not make choices that led to its forming into a system where life could thrive – heck you could even posit multiple universes.
    You would have to assume that these animal spirits have as choices to evolove to a body that is in the image of God and intelligent, but no path of choices leads to intelligence but not in Gods image.

    Interesting as idle speculation – evolution theory has no choice in it though. Its adherents will view this as yet another pernicious creationist psuedo-science abomination like intelligent design.

  38. themormonbrit on June 7, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I love this poem, and would recommend that everyone read it in its entirety.
    It’s always annoyed me that because of conservative mormon theologians such as Joseph Fielding Smith and McConkie, Mormonism has voluntarily turned its back on evolution. To my mind, no other faith tradition in the world is more compatible with evolution than mormonism. We have a theology of eternal progression, the belief that mankind can grow, learn and develop infintely. Evolution is just this principle applied to all life instead of just an individual person.
    Oh, and Adam G, I should add that I am a proud compatibilist. Not only that, but I also believe mormon views about agency are fundamentally compatibilist.

  39. Adam G. on June 7, 2012 at 11:39 am

    themormonbrit,
    most evolutionary biologists would reject the view that biological evolution involves progression, or growing, learning, or developing. I think they overstate the case, but lets be aware that if we embrace your view we are adopting a minority scientific viewpoint.
    If you have a blog or have expounded your views on compatibilist free agency somewhere, I’d be interested in the reference.

  40. themormonbrit on June 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Adam G, I was not aware that most evolutionary biologists held that view. Then again, biology really isn’t my strong point so perhaps I’m hardly the best qualified to speak on this issue. Nevertheless, from what I know of evolution and natural selection (which, granted, probably isn’t as much as I should), it is the process by which organisms in a particular species which are better suited for survival in their environment survive, while the organisms less suited for survival will die because they are less able to compete successfully. Thus, only the most successful members of the species will survive to pass on their genes to the next generation. Therefore, as this process is repeated, each new generation becomes better suited for survival in their particular environment.
    Now, I can understand why many evolutionary biologists would be hesitant about saying that these newer generations are superior or more developed than previous generations. But if the next generation is better adapted to survival in their environment than the previous generation, I am willing to call this ‘progression’. Please, correct me if I’m wrong (and I mean that sincerely; I’m slightly out of my depth when it comes to biology). In my experience, ‘evolution’ is synonymous with growth and progression. Biological evolution, or at least the way I understand it, basically implies that each new generation of a species is one that represents that species growing and progressing, in terms of being well-adapted to their environment.

    Anyway, on to compatibilism. Regretfully, I do not have a blog, nor have I ever expanded my views on compatibilist free agency anywhere else. Now, I was going to write out my views, and indeed started to do so, but then realised it was taking way too long and I really didn’t feel like writing out an entire essay on times and seasons.

    Having said that, I am eager to discuss a compatibilist framework for free agency somewhere. Most of the people I have come across in my life really don’t care as much as I do about philosophical debates on free will, so it would be refreshing to have a well-rounded discussion about compatibilist free agency somewhere. I am rather new to the bloggernacle, so I have no idea how I would go about doing such a thing. I could write out all my thoughts here, but I don’t want to threadjack, and I would rather have a discussion devoted entirely to compatibilist free agency, as I think it’s a topic worth discussing. I don’t know if you would happen to have any suggestions?

  41. Adam on June 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    The sooner Mormonism can distance itself from the wacky pseudoscientific world of creationism that other religions are mired in, the better.

  42. Adam G. on June 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Lots of blogs accept guest posts including, I think, this one. I don’t know if http://www.newcoolthang.com does, but they are rabid libertarian free will debaters, and would probably *love* to have you post there so they could argue with you in the comments. I’d be perfectly willing to host you at my blog, http://www.jrganymede.com, but we’re hopelessly lightminded over there and only eccentrics read us.

  43. SteveP on June 7, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    “most evolutionary biologists would reject the view that biological evolution involves progression, or growing, learning, or developing.”

    This is not true. The view that evolution is directed only by trait selection in a local environment, does not mean that evolutionary biologist don’t recognize that things have increased in complexity, that niches are created indicating more opportunity diversity and more kinds of organisms, that life has progressed (E.O Wilson’s new book is an effort to explain how sociality creates complexity, learning and develop in any way that matters.) I cannot imagine what reading of evolutionary biology would suggest what you said above. In fact they even believe that life is designed but the mechanism is selection, variation and inheritance. Certainly, evolution is non teleological, but that does not mean no progression.

  44. themormonbrit on June 8, 2012 at 3:06 am

    SteveP, I was under that impression as well. Surely, evolution proposes that species progress and become better-suited to their environment as time goes on.

    Adam G, thank you very much. That is extremely helpful. I am sure your blog is anything but hopelessly lightminded. How would I go about seeking to write a guest post on these blogs?

  45. Adam Greenwood on June 8, 2012 at 7:10 am

    SteveP,
    this is typical of what I’ve read:
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/misconceptions_faq.php#a2

    MormonB.,
    Contact the blog administration; most blogs will have a contact link. The Millennial Star blog even has a direct submission link: http://www.millennialstar.org/submit-a-guest-post/

  46. Ray on June 8, 2012 at 7:19 am

    One of the great legacies that Joseph Smith left us is the undivided nature of knowledge. Ultimately, all knowledge is spiritual and eternal. This provides a beautiful context for learning as well as motivation to learn. LDS scholars of all kinds should go forth joyfully, free, unemcumbered by agendas that may be fashionable at any given time. We have been blessed and should take full advantage of that blessing.

  47. nate on June 8, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Has anyone mentioned that Brigham Young’s Adam-God theory reconciles the conflict between evolution and the physical/human nature of God?

    If God the Father is Adam, that would explain why He is in the form of a man.

    Of course Brigham Young believed that Adam plucked out from among a race of extra-terrestrial gods. But what if Young was half-right? Adam’s non-human spirit came from extra-terrestrial sources, but Adam’s physical body came from the dust of the earth, through evolution. The manifestation of God the Father’s physical appearance is explained by the fact that actually Adam is God the Father, as Brigham Young has stated.

  48. themormonbrit on June 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    nate, that idea is all very well, and certainly explains some things, as you rightly point out. It would be a wonderful hypothesis if it wasn’t in complete and utter opposition and outright contradiction with countless passages of scripture.

  49. Antonio on June 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    That’s an interesting thought, Nate. Our Heavenly Parents coming down to earth as Adam and Eve is one of the most beautiful doctrines ever pronounced in Mormonism.

  50. themormonbrit on June 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Antonio, I share your admiration for the beauty of the concept of the parents of our spirits being also the parents of our bodies. I just thought it would be wise to point out that there is a reason that the Adam-God theory has long been recognised as rather incompatible with the vast majority of lds scripture and thought.

  51. themormonbrit on June 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Also, if anyone’s interested, I’ve just completed a post about compatibilist free agency at my new blog.

    http://www.zionssynod.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/compatibilist-free-agency.html

  52. Wesley Dean on June 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother came down as AN Adam and AN Eve. Heavenly Father is not Michael. Heavenly Mother is not whoever Eve was before she was born. Adam and Eve recapitulate what our Father and Mother did here, and we’re supposed to too.

    God does not grow humans, or human esque things in a lab somewhere. He begets humans with His Wife, just like we do. Things that reproduce reproduce after their own kind. So God didn’t genetically grow rose bushes, He brought some here. The same goes for all the other creatures. Our Heavenly Parents don’t start from scratch by using magic, and They don’t start from scratch by growing stuff in a lab. They follow the same laws They’ve given us.

  53. themormonbrit on June 16, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Very assertive, Wesley Dean. Interesting thoughts, though.