Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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Seers, Savants and Evolution I I: v u L u I 1 v 4 3k 4 v only when he himself is so moved,6 a conclusion that is religiously sound enough, but still too open for scholarly analysis. For some degree of necessary control in the matter, we shall in this article confine ourselves primarily to statements by the Presidents of the Church. Recognizing, however, that counselors in the First Presidency of necessity share a very close relationship to the President, sharing with him the responsibility for governing the affairs and doctrines of the Church/ we shall also on occasion extend ourselves to their testimony and counsel. The First Presidency, then, as the highest quorum in the Church, becomes our source of authoritative statements. The many statements by other authorities will be discussed only as needed for perspective, since they are not binding or fully authoritative.8 It should be recognized at the outset that the Authorities have never been comfortable with the ideas surrounding evolution. But that point must be kept in perspective: much of their discomfort is shared by many other religionists, laymen, and scientists. It would appear that the primary reasons for discomfort lie not so much in the question of whether living forms have evolved through time; rather, the concern seems to lie with the mechanisms, responsible for such projected changes. To believe that evolution is Deity's mode of creation is one thing; to ascribe it all to the action of blind chance is another. Darwin, of course, postulated natural selection as the major mechanism of change. In the century since, it has become plain that he was generally correct; natural selection is the major identified mechanism. Other mechanisms (e.g., genetic drift) have since been identified as well, and the picture is still far from complete. But the real question is not whether these mechanisms are functional; it is whether they are sufficient. Can they, as presently understood, explain the incredible complexity observable in the living world? Of more direct concern to those theologically-oriented is the question: Is there any need for, or evidence of, any processes that would be classed as divinely operated or controlled? Therein lies the crux: no one really has any good ideas as to how to look for such possible instances of divine intervention. How would one identify them? It has long been fashionable, in literature both within and without the Church, to implicate God wherever we lack adequate "natural" explanations; that is, God is present wherever there is a gap in our knowledge. This "god of the gaps" approach is demonstrably tantamount to theological suicide; thegaps have a way of being filled in by further research, and one must keep shift-