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 6j etc., unless acting specifically under the President's direction, the Church may know that the utterances are not scripture. His final expository paragraph reads: . . . When any man, except the President of the Church, undertakes to proclaim one unsettled doctrine, as among two or more doctrines in dispute, as the settled doctrine of the Church, we may know that he is not "moved upon by the Holy Ghost," unless he is acting under the authority of the President. . . . Such teachings, to say the least, were not characteristic of what was usually taught over the pulpit. There was no mention in the sermon of any specific contemporary teachings to which these principles were to be applied, but there also was left no doubt that they were to be applied. President McKay himself avoided any direct public statement on the matter. His closest approach to public commentary came from his beginning-of-the-school-year speech to the Brigham Young University faculty, September 17, 1954.94 He handled therein various categories of knowledge, and touched briefly upon the matter of science and religion. He averred that it is a "stern fact of life" that all living things obey fixed laws of nature and divine commands. He referred to the creation of man thusly: "When the Creator 'breathed into his nostrils the breath of life/ (and never mind when it was), 'and man became a living soul' God gave him the power of choice." In his closing sentence, he moved to . . . bless you [the faculty] with wisdom to know the truth as it is given by revealed word in the authorized books of the Church, bless you with the power to discern between truth and error as given by individuals,. .. But this public response by the First Presidency obviously would not satisfy the questions in the minds of many members. Over the years, there seems to have been an almost constant stream of inquiries, both written and oral, concerning the doctrinal soundness of Apostle Smith's book and similar teachings. The response from the First Presidency has been consistent: an avowal that the Church has taken no official position on the matter of evolution and related subjects, that it has made no official statement on the subject, that the book in question is neither "authorized" by the Church nor "published by" the Church, that it "is not approved by the Church," and that it contains only the author's personal views. On occasion the inquirer was sent two documents: the 1909 statement by the First Presidency, and the 1931 speech by Talmage, with the admonition that the entire matter should be dealt with by "suspending judgment as long as may be necessary" until the complete truth should be perceived.95 Throughout all such communications ran the sentiment of tolerance, open-mindedness, and a dedication to final truth. Even those who sought the First Presidency's evaluation of materials to be used in their teachings got no further response. And here, it seems, the matter rests, as far as authoritative statements are concerned. There has been no further official response, and it would appear that none is forthcoming. Rather lengthy explanations by past First Presidencies (among the materials mentioned, ref. 95) indicate that since such authoritative statements must be applicable to future developments as well as to the current state of knowledge, it is deemed wisest to let the matter rest without further development. Authoritative statements concerning scientific matters seem neither necessary nor desirable, even if the knowledge to make them did exist—and it seems clear that it does not. Effective arguments can be marshalled to support the point that