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 5a IE V 3 tion. But the damage was done: theologians would have their species, and they would have them fixed. Science, self-correcting as it eventually is, finally grew openly beyond the strictures of Linne's early concepts. Species quite obviously could change, and did—both in time and in space. The battle with theology was joined after Darwin proposed a mechanism (natural selection) for such change.38 A very real problem was the lack of an adequate concept of what a species really is. We need not discuss the attempts at definition here, only point out that the concept is problematical. That does not indicate that species do not exist, they most definitely do. As with many other things, however, precise definitions are virtually impossible, and before one can really understand anyone else on the matter, he must know what definitions are being used.39 Such a common word to hide such complexity! But statements on the subject, without definitions, are virtually meaningless. What position on species fixity was being articulated by the leaders of Mormon-ism up to and during this critical time? It is readily apparent that the subject hardly ever caught their attention. Casual statements that God and man are of the same species occur periodically, but beyond that the treatment is sketchy. The following lean sampling represents all the authoritative statements that have come to our attention. Speaking on divine decrees, Joseph Smith comments: The sea also has its bounds which it cannot pass. God has set many signs on the earth, as well as in the heavens; for instance, the oak of the forest, the fruit of the tree, the herb of the field—all bear a sign that seed hath been planted there; for it is a decree of the Lord that every tree, plant, and herb bearing seed should bring forth of its kind, and cannot come forth after any other law or principle.40 No mention here of species at all, just the generic "kind/' and no definition of that. For all its looseness, however, a certain sentiment is evidenced which tends to favor some sort of fixity. Eighteen years later, in i860, Brigham Young touched the subject. In a sermon launched upon the matter of death and the resurrection, he asserts: The whole Scriptures plainly teach us that we are the children of that God who framed the world. Let us look round and see whether we can find a father and son in this congregation.