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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?o / Dialogue In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular. You may take geology, for instance, and it is a true science; not that I would say for a moment that all the conclusions and deductions of its professors are true, but its leading principles are; they are facts—they are eternal; and to assert that the Lord made this earth out of nothing is preposterous and impossible. God never made something out of nothing; it is not in the economy or law by which the worlds were, are, or will exist. There is an eternity before us, and it is full of matter; and if we but understand enough of the Lord and his ways, we would say that he took of this matter and organized this earth from it. How long it has been organized it is not for me to say, and I do not care anything about it. As for the Bible account of the creation we may say that the Lord gave it to Moses, or rather Moses obtained the history and traditions of the fathers, and from these picked out what he considered necessary, and that account has been handed down from age to age, and we have got it, no matter whether it is correct or not, and whether the Lord found the earth empty and void, whether he made it out of nothing or out of the rude elements; or whether he made it in six days or in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. If we understood the process of creation there would be no mystery about it, it would be all reasonable and plain, for there is no mystery except to the ignorant. This we know by what we have learned naturally. . . .36 We need not belabor the issue. Though Mormon speakers expressed a diversity of opinions, the First Presidency kept the door open, clearly opposed to orthodox Christian theology, clearly sympathetic to the position of science. 3. Fixity of Species If ever anyone bought a bad deal, it was when the theologians adopted the stance that species do not change, that they remain as "originally created." The irony of the matter is that the concept of species is not a religious one at all, but an idea prematurely bought from science. The Genesis scriptures speak only of "kind," which to this day no one has been able to define.37 Indeed, no one worried much about it until about the 17th century, when John Ray (1627-1705) and Carl Linne (Linnaeus) (1707-1778) laid the foundations of modern taxonomy and systematics. Linne's case is particularly instructive. Few men have ever so completely dominated the intellectual thought of the time in which they have lived; he was indeed "a phenomenon rather than a man." His gift and passion for cataloguing organisms was unmatched and contagious; everyone wanted to get into the act, and plants and animals were brought to him from all over the world for proper naming and classification. His passion was to name everything, to pigeonhole all living things into the neat compartments he attributed to the Genesis creations. He thus declared a fixity of species, that they were unchangeable entities each descended from a specific Edenic stock, by whose analysis one caught a glimpse of the Creator at work. But the concept was an illusion, one which tragically escaped from his control. For it caught the human fancy, and when in his maturity Linne realized that it was worthless, he was powerless to change its hold upon the human mind. By then it had been seized upon as a classic demonstration of the neatness of creation; "kind" had been construed as meaning "species," and the trap for theologians was thus laid—innocently but nonetheless surely. It was Linne's own fame and prodigious work which sprung the set. Not only did it become painfully evident to anyone who wished to look that there were just too many species to be explained so simply—if Adam had named them all in the Garden, he'd likely have been at it yet—but their distributions, their intermediate grades, their hybridizations, were irrefutably beyond so neat a concep-