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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Seers, Savants and Evolution I 59 E V O . u 1 __t i ¦ and sensitivity toward evolution that is quite commendable. The distinction between evolution per se and Darwinism was periodically noted, a point which many later writers seem to have missed. The then recent re-discovery of Mendel's paper and the principles of genetics, and the question of their compatibility with Darwinism, were sensed, and watched with interest. But the concept that science and Mormonism were a basic unity is evident throughout; it forms the dominant theme. The year 1909 marks a particularly significant occasion, the centennial of Darwin's birth as well as the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. The scientific literature had been building toward the event for several years. Debates on the "current status of Darwinism," its validity in areas of concern other than biology, its relation to religion, philosophy, etc., abounded in the lay literature as well. Centennial celebrations were held in both Europe and America; the Pontifical Biblical Commission, appointed in 1902 by Pope Leo XIII, finally issued its long-awaited report on the interpretation of Genesis. In Mormonism, the atmosphere was quieter, but the discussion was not ignored. The YMMIA manual for the year (Joseph Smith as Scientist, by Widtsoe)67 reaffirmed the ideas concerning the age of the earth that were taught earlier by Brigham Young and others, that the earth was very old, and that the creative days were indefinite periods. The manual evoked a series of questions on the matter to Church headquarters, which were discussed in a special column of the Improvement Era. The managing editor, Edward H. Anderson, defended the manual. He contended that the verses of D&C 77:12, cited by questioners in support of a young-earth theory, did not apply to the subject in any meaningful way at all, and turned the column over to Widtsoe for further discussion. Widtsoe proceeded to dismiss the twenty-four-hour-day view, the 1000-year-day concept, the D&C 77:6, 7,12 argument, as well as the theory attributed to Joseph Smith that the earth had been formed of fragments of other worlds.68 The following month's issue published as its lead article an essay by Apostle Charles W. Penrose entitled, "The Age and Destiny of the Earth," which also argued for an old earth of indefinite age.69 And in November, 1909, the first formal statement on evolution from the First Presidency was published; it was signed by Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund.70 Entitled "The Origin of Man," it is widely cited by some individuals in the Church as "the official pronouncement against evolution." A more honest ap-