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 61 IE VOLUT I 1 \ MVm r ^ f c \ 1 the President's Office. Once again, the Improvement Era was the platform of response, in an editorial that has, so far as we can find, not been further commented on to this day.75 Joseph F. Smith, as president of the Church, and Edward H. Anderson, were the editors. We quote it in toto, from the columns relegated to instructions to the priesthood: Origin of Man.—"In just what manner did the mortal bodies of Adam and Eve come into existence on this earth?" This question comes from several High Priests' quorums. Of course, all are familiar with the statements in Genesis 1:26,27; 2:7; also in the Book of Moses, Pearl of Great Price, 2:27; and in the Book of Abraham 5 -.7. The latter statement reads: "And the Gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit (that is, the man's spirit) and put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." These are the authentic statements of the scriptures, ancient and modern, and it is best to rest with these, until the Lord shall see fit to give more light on the subject. Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time; whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God. For helpful discussion of the subject, see Improvement Era, Vol. XI, August 1908, No. 10, page 778, article, "Creation and Growth of Adam"; also article by the First Presidency, "Origin of Man," Vol. XIII, No. 1, page 75,1909. For clarification, the August 1908 article referred to was a response to a question raised about an even earlier article; the author of the two pieces, William Halls, had contended that Adam could not have been created full-grown, but must have gone through a natural childhood and adolescence. When pushed for documentation by Era readers who felt that such a view was incompatible with scriptural literalism, he answered, in the article cited by the editorial, that he could not document it, but that "When a passage of scripture taken literally contradicts a fundamental, natural law, I take it as allegorical; and in the absence of divine authority, put a construction on it that seems to harmonize with my experience and reason." So ended the matter, apparently, so far as Joseph F. Smith was concerned: the editorial listed three options, and it is evident that not one of them agrees with a literal interpretation of Moses 3 :y or other such creation passages. The Improvement Era continued to publish articles on science and the gospel (mostly articles by Frederick Pack, a University of Utah geology professor) until April, 1911. A few months before, the very touchy matter of academic freedom