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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62. I Dialogue in the Church school system had reared its head, regarding the propriety of teaching ". . . the theories of evolution as at present set forth in the text books, and also theories relating to the Bible known as 'higher criticism'. . . ." President Smith, in a special editorial/6 reported to the Church on the matter. He indicated that ". . . it is well known that evolution and the 'higher criticism'—though perhaps containing many truths—are in conflict on some matters with the scriptures, including some modern revelation . . . ," and finally concluded: ... it appears a waste of time and means, and detrimental to faith and religion to enter too extensively into the undemonstrated theories of men on philosophies relating to the origin of life, or the methods adopted by an Alwise Creator in peopling the earth with the bodies of men, birds and beasts. Let us rather turn our abilities to the practical analysis of the soil, . . . A companion editorial from President Smith was aimed more directly at the youth of the Church, and appeared in The Juvenile Instructor.77 Though more general in its approach, it makes a finer distinction between the President's personal feelings and the Church position. His private views seem to be embodied in the following passage: . . . They [students] are not old enough or learned enough to discriminate, or put proper limitations upon a theory which we believe is more or less a fallacy. In reaching the conclusion that evolution would be best left out of discussions in our Church schools we are deciding a question of propriety and are not undertaking to say how much of evolution is true, or how much is false. We think that while it is a hypothesis, on both sides of which the most eminent scientific men of the world are arrayed, that it is folly to take up its discussion in our institutions of learning; and we cannot see wherein such discussions are likely to promote the faith of our young people. . . . But he clearly spelled out the Church position on the matter: . . . The Church itself has no philosophy about the modus operandi employed by the Lord in His creation of the world, and much of the talk therefore about the philosophy of Mor-monism is altogether misleading. . . . With these deliverances, President Smith let the matter rest. No further clarification of his sentiments regarding the mechanism of creation was given, though certainly this was a golden opportunity if ever one existed. Two years later, in a conference address in Arizona, President Smith delivered himself of one further comment: . . . Man was born of woman; Christ, the Savior, was born of woman and God, the Father, was born of woman. Adam, our earthly parent, was also born of woman into this world, the same as Jesus and you and I. . . .78 When? How? And of whom? The statement is consistent with all three of the 1910 options, and these and further questions about Joseph F. Smith's beliefs on the matter can be answered only by extensive and tenuous proof-texting, a well-known and notoriously unreliable method. Certain it is that he, one of the most scripturally committed of all LDS presidents, remained consistent with his predecessors and officially left the matter open and unresolved. Articles in the Improvement Era ranged widely over the issue, from condemnations of the whole idea of evolution to accounts of dinosaur digging. But no further authoritative statements were made until 1925, during the administration of President Heber J. Grant. That was the year of the famous Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee. Young John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was charged with the teaching of evolution,