The Scientific Deformation and Reformation of Genesis: How “Science” Messed It Up, but Also Fixes It

Ben contemplating his words at Petra.

I was grateful for the invitation to speak at UVU’s Mormon Studies Conference on Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation, and Faith in February 2018. I spoke about how and why we’ve come to understand the creation chapters of Genesis certain ways, and then participated in a panel on evolution with two BYU biologists. You can watch my presentation here (scroll to the bottom and click on my name to launch the video.) My slides aren’t visible, but you can download them here (pdf) to follow along. Continue reading “The Scientific Deformation and Reformation of Genesis: How “Science” Messed It Up, but Also Fixes It”

A Vague Post on Joseph Fielding Smith, Evolution, and Other Sides of His Story

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 9.07.09 AMPeople are multi-faceted and complex. It’s very easy to develop an attitude of putting either a halo or a black hat on someone from one incident, one aspect of them, particularly when it’s a historical figure. It can be hard to get a full picture of someone. Elder Maxwell once said that the tragedy of Elder McConkie was that he had the most fantastic sense of humor, and no one in the Church knew it. (See my old post here.)

It’s well known that Joseph Fielding Smith was strongly opposed to evolution, embraced a young earth creationist view, and consequently had arguments with other General Authorities for much of his life. Continue reading “A Vague Post on Joseph Fielding Smith, Evolution, and Other Sides of His Story”

David O. McKay, Genesis, and Evolution: Part 2.

Pierre Lecomte du Noüy, from Wikipedia.

Pierre Lecomte du Noüy, from Wikipedia.

In a previous post, I detailed President McKay’s explicit, published, written approval of a very pro-evolution LDS magazine article. This served as evidence that President McKay did not understand Genesis 1 to prohibit an old earth, evolution, etc.

Shortly after the 1954 publication of Joseph Fielding Smith’s Man, His Origin and Destiny, BYU History professor Richard D. Poll and his wife were invited to discuss the book with the author. Knowing that President McKay disagreed strongly with the book, they managed to arrange a meeting with him on the same day. According to the Polls’ combined notes, made immediately afterwards, President McKay, “striking the desk for emphasis… repeated that [Man, His Origin and Destiny] is not the authoritative position of the Church.” He went on to recommend two books on “the problem of man, nature, and God” which considered “two of the outstanding books of the century”: A. Cressy Morrison’s Man Does Not Stand Alone and Pierre Lecomte du Noüy, Human Destiny Continue reading “David O. McKay, Genesis, and Evolution: Part 2.”

David O. McKay on Evolution and Reading Genesis

One part of my book on Genesis 1 addresses the question “Why can’t we just believe what our Church leaders have said about Genesis 1?” Well, that presumes two things; first, that a unified interpretation of how to read Genesis has existed among them, and second, that such a unified interpretation (if it existed) had come about via revelation.

I examine three Church presidents to demonstrate the variety of views. On one extreme is Brigham Young, and on the other sits Joseph Fielding Smith. In the middle is David O. McKay. His position was that Genesis was indMckayeed revealed scripture but, contra Joseph Fielding Smith, that status did not mean it was historical/scientific in nature. Genesis was therefore not an obstacle to belief in evolution. Continue reading “David O. McKay on Evolution and Reading Genesis”