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Title Volume 08, Number 3, 4, Autumn-Winter 1973
Subject Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Description 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.
Publisher Dialogue Foundation, 900 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90024
Scanning Vendor Backstage Library Works - 1180 S. 800 E. Orem, UT 84097
Contributors Rees, Robert A.
Date 1973
Type Text
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Language eng
Rights Management Digital image, copyright 2004, Dialogue Foundation. All rights reserved.
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Title Page 52
Identifier V08N0304-1682_Page 52.jpg
Source Dialogue: Vol 8 No 3, 4
Description 52 I Dialogue Do we see one an elephant, and the other a hen? No. Does a father that looks like a human being have a son like an ape, going on all fours? No; the son looks like his father. There is an endless variety of distinction in the few features that compose the human face, yet children have in their countenances and general expression of figure and temperament a greater or less likeness of their parents. You do not see brutes spring from human beings. Every species is true to its kind. The children of men are featured alike and walk erect.41 The hyperbole here is evident, and strictly speaking, completely disrupts the point its author is making. As it is, it certainly does not constitute a statement against the scientific version of changes in species. Modern evolution texts carry many statements concerning developmental canalization and genetic homeostasis which express these same concepts. But with all that, there is still, in President Young's words, a sentiment toward fixity of species—again subject to whatever is meant by "species." These would seem to constitute virtually all the authoritative statements that were applicable during the early Darwinian period. The extreme paucity and ambiguity of such addressments is evident from the fact that the favorite citation on the subject by current Mormon anti-evolutionists is cited, usually, as one from "President Charles W. Penrose, of the First Presidency." While it is slightly more explicit than the ones we have here discussed, it simply is not admissible, since it was in actuality made by Elder Charles W. Penrose nearly twenty years before he was called to be a general authority, let alone a member of the First Presidency.42 In summary, the doctrine of species fixity was virtually ignored by official Mormon spokesmen. When they did broach the subject, their statements were very general and in no real way proscriptive from a professional's point of view. The authors were not speaking to professionals, however, and the sentiment of their statements took on the flavor of the theology of their day. In the light of subsequent research and observation, such a sentiment is unfortunate; it mars a rather neat record. It is quite evident, however, that a doctrine of species fixity was not a matter of prime concern in the nineteenth-century Church. 4. Vitalism: Necessity for an Outside 'Spirit' or Vital Force While not strictly a product of the Darwinian revolution, and in many ways antedating it, the question of the existence of a vital force became an important part of the discussion surrounding Darwinism. Particularly was this true in later years of the furor, when vitalism was offered in various forms as an alternative to the causalistic theories which were more in vogue.43 As with previous topics, our purpose here is only to look at the range of authoritative Mormon expression. We must restrict ourselves to a fairly superficial treatment, though the subject as treated in Mormonism virtually screams for a thorough and searching analysis. And although it is highly unlikely that any reviewer can wrap it all up in one neat package, it becomes quickly evident to the inquiring student that Mormon spokesmen have glimpsed a view radically different from the usual Christian positions, and their tenets are very poorly appreciated in the Church today. This lack of appreciation seems to result more from neglect than from any shift in doctrine; the basic conceptions, tentative though they are, have become so covered with the cobwebs of time that to most Mormons today even their basic outlines are obscured; the general concept in the Church today is essentially standard Christian.
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