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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68 I Dialogue such pronouncements, necessarily restrictive in their nature, would stifle the very experience that life is supposed to provide; they would be inimical to the very roots of the process of "evolving into a God/' The 1931 First Presidency's observation that these matters do not directly relate to "salvation" is astute as well as practical. Those who argue against evolution, for instance, do so usually from the proclaimed motivation that the concept is inimical to religion, that it leads necessarily to atheism and associated evils. The position is tenuous at best. Cases where such a process is alleged to have occurred appear to be far more often the result of the intense conflict and polarization between popular expressions of theology and biology, rather than the result of the concept of evolution per se. Darwin perceived that his views bore no necessary antagonism to religion,96 and a non-LDS commentator recognized that fact in the following expression: Evolution, if rightly understood, has no theological or antitheological influence whatever. What is evolution? It is not an entity. It is a mode of creation. It leaves the whole field of Christian faith where and as it found it. Its believers and advocates may be theists, pantheists, or atheists. The causes of these radically different religious views cannot be sought in the one theory. They are to be found elsewhere.97 There are too many devout religious evolutionists to argue defensibly that a belief in evolution per se, stripped of the "either God or evolution" polemics, leads to religious deterioration; indeed, there are many both within the Church and without who will argue from personal experience that the concept of evolution can have precisely the opposite effect: a deepening of religious sentiment and spirituality due to the recognition that God is a God of law, of order, of rational behavior, rather than a deity of mystery, of transcendent and capricious whims. At the same time, there can be no denying the fact that the intense polemics of the theology-biology debate has polarized people into opposite camps detrimental to the cause of both. In our day and time, we do not need further schism; what the world is crying for is synthesis. People have been driven to opposite extremes in this matter because of respective truths that they found in whatever position they finally choose. Is it not time to recognize that each camp has truth, and try to take the best from both? Mormonism is committed to the concept of a lawful, loving, orderly Deity to whom capriciousness and deceit are anathema. The concept that God works through universal law, that He is God because of His obedience to and operation within the framework of such law, is fundamental. This gives Mormonism a basis for synthesis that exists in few if any other Western religions; it cannot be ignored with impunity. Mormonism's view that truth can be obtained empirically or pragmatically,98 must also be kept constantly in mind; God speaks in more ways than just scripture or open revelation. It would appear that teachers in the Church cannot be honest in their teachings if they present only one point of view as the position of the Church. Whoso among them picks just one position from among the many articulated on these matters by Church leaders becomes guilty of teaching a part-truth, and witnesses immediately that he "is not moved upon by the Holy Ghost." And will not students who permit such teaching without clarifying the matter be equally guilty of perpetuating part-truths? It would seem to be high time that we insist on a greater honesty and scholarship in our gospel discussions; we owe future generations far better teaching than the current ones have been getting. In these