Compatibility: Science, Evolution, and LDS Thought

Does the Church take an official position on Evolution?  Nope.

Let’s all remain open and humble in our pursuit of all kinds of truths. And let scientists do Science. After all, we have nothing to fear from discovery in any field.

Living the restored Gospel principles saves us.  Scientific principles — even established ones — don’t exalt anyone.  But it doesn’t hurt to understand truths of Science.

Further, there’s so much we don’t know. For example, the world’s best physicists don’t know what light and energy are.  We are only a few hundred years from the Enlightenment. We’re all in the dark to a great degree, and thus must very much live by faith.

Science is only a method, and can ask how.  God answers why.

fossils

Read this October 2016 New Era article.  The first paragraph quoted below:

What does the Church believe about evolution?

“The Church has no official position on the theory of evolution. Organic evolution, or changes to species’ inherited traits over time, is a matter for scientific study. Nothing has been revealed concerning evolution. Though the details of what happened on earth before Adam and Eve, including how their bodies were created, have not been revealed, our teachings regarding man’s origin are clear and come from revelation…”

 

Ben Spackman shares valuable insight with Gospel Tangents:

Image result for henry eyring scientist

Dr. Henry Eyring — the father of current Apostle, Pres. Henry B. Eyring — was a world-class chemist and believing Latter-day Saint.  After a full career in Chemistry at Princeton, he returned to Utah Brother Eyring served on the LDS General Sunday School Board.

Pres. Eyring wrote about his world-recognized chemist father:  My Father’s Formula.

A few of his thoughts below:

Some have asked me: “Is there any conflict between science and religion?” There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men. . . .

Image result for conflict science and religion

A young man once inquired: “In high school we are taught such things as pre-Adamic men, and that kind of thing, but we hear another thing in Church. What should I do about it?”

I think I gave the right answer. I said, “In this Church, you only have to believe the truth. Find out what the truth is!”

Simple, but very powerful ideas.

 

Steven Peck is a professor and poet at BYU.  Dr. Peck gave this talk at the Science & Mormonism:  Cosmos, Earth, and Man conference at BYU on 11/9/13.

Why Evolution and LDS Thought are Fully Compatible:  Overcoming our Suspicions of Science.

More from Steven Peck:

Episode 50: A Religion of Both Prayers and Pterodactyls – Steven Peck

You should subscribe to these LDS Perspectives Podcasts. Really, you should.

Home

Other books by Steven Peck here:

 

Valuable perspectives by LDS scientist, David Bailey.

Extreme and atheist scientists are the most vocal critics of religion.  And the most fundamentalist Christians are hostile to science.  We don’t need to take an extreme position.

 

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw on “Science and Genesis: A Personal View” given at the Science & Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, & Man conference held on November 9, 2013, in Provo, Utah.

Rather than mock the Genesis stories, as many atheist scientists do, Dr. Bradshaw humbly provides his point of view.

LDS Truth Claims on the topic of Science:

 

Alvin Plantinga is a world-class American philosopher.  Plantinga presents a non-Mormon, but traditional Christian point of view:

 

William Lane Craig, a non-Mormon philosopher, shares his opinion about Evolution and Christianity in several videos below:

Short answer: No, evolution doesn’t disprove theism or Christianity.

WLC’s opinion: a six-day creation model is an embarrassment

 

These next two — as the last two philosophers above — are neither LDS.  Though we differ in beliefs about God, they share lots of truth and valuable perspectives!

Bill Whittle (2nd speaker) had a great line about people who say “I believe in Science.”  Bill points out that those people usually have no idea what Science is.

Image result for i believe in science

According to Bill, saying “I believe in Science” is very much like saying this: “I believe in a hammer.”

Image result for hammer

Like a hammer, Science is a tool.  A method.  Not a world view.

Watch the video:

Science is awesome, but has obvious and significant limitations.

Not all scientists — especially the new atheists — tell you this.

http://ldsmag.com/10-things-science-cannot-prove/

 

Evidences of the Resurrection

Was Jesus really resurrected? Or was his resurrection merely a trick, an illusion or the result of an incorrect conclusion drawn by followers who looked in the wrong tomb? In this episode of Religion Today, which originally aired on KSL Radio on March 31, 2013, Martin Tanner discusses evidence for the resurrection and the nature of the resurrection.

Mormons must understand this topic.  The resurrection is what caused Jesus’ early followers to spread his message throughout the world.

 

3 (False) Major Objections to Jesus’ Resurrection

Jesus is mythical figure:  Did Jesus really live?  YES.

Wrong tomb:  Was the empty tomb that of someone other than than Jesus of Nazareth?  NO.

Jesus only fainted:  Did Jesus faint from loss of blood, then revived, and seen again by his apostles later?  NO.

Martin Tanner discusses papyrus, early New Testament manuscripts, and the resurrection:

https://interpreterfoundation.org/interpreter-radio-show-march-31-2019/

Can the LDS Church be true? What about a sandwich?

 

In an on-line discussion this evening I stated that I believed the LDS Church was true. An ex-Mormon responded that I would quickly tire of him telling me that his sandwich was true. Another said I was an arrogant @%$.

I told this first fellow that his sandwich might be good, bad, average, gross, or extraordinary. But we don’t usually characterize things like sandwiches, apples, or bubblegum as true. True relates to something being valid, actual, based in reality, etc. So, sandwiches can’t be true. But churches, certain principles, and other discernible things can be true (or false).

I told the 2nd fellow — who called me an arrogant @%$ — that we don’t have to agree. We don’t have to agree on politics, sports, our interpretation of Science, or religion. But it is possible that my religious views are correct without my being arrogant or a jerk. Just as it’s possible my views on sports may be based in fact, and therefore I might be correct in my views on that topic. It simply isn’t true that to hold beliefs others disagree with makes you a bad or arrogant individual. One simply must look at the merits of the beliefs. Are they true beliefs? Based in fact?

I didn’t say people from the South Pole are always bad. That would make me a jerk and perhaps an @%$. Instead, I made a religious claim. I have many reasons for believing the way I do. He doesn’t. Fine. Our difference of opinion makes neither him nor me a jerk. We simply disagree. You’ll have to trust me that I was trying to be nice, thoughtful, and persuasive — and not arrogant — in a spirited discussion.

So, unlike claiming a sandwich is true, it is completely rational to say that the LDS Church is true. After all, I believe Joseph saw angels, had plates, translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and restored the Gospel.

I shared w/ these critics a few synonyms for true (see below) that make the expression easier to handle in many cases. I personally don’t prefer the one-sentence answer: “The Church is true,” though the sentence itself is true. We might want to mix in other words such as accurate history, what really happened to Joseph and the witnesses, etc.

true
tro͞o/
adjective
  1. 1.
    in accordance with fact or reality.
    “a true story”
    synonyms: correct, accurate, right, verifiable, in accordance with the facts, what actually/really happened, well documented, the case, so; More

  2. accurate or exact.
    “it was a true depiction”
    synonyms: accurate, true to life, faithful, telling it like it is, fact-based, realistic, close, lifelike

    “a true reflection of life in the 50s”

The Restoration of the (Melchizedek) Priesthood

Another great BYU speech.

A. William Lund, former Assistant Historian of the Church, gave this speech in 1951 at BYU. Brother Lund worked at and was associated with the Church Historians Office from 1908 till his death in 1971.

When Brother Lund came to work at the Historian’s Office there were many veteran members of the Church who personally recalled experiences in Nauvoo and early Utah. He enjoyed talking with them, as well as visitors who streamed past his desk for more than the next sixty years.

This link shares more about the extraordinary life of A. William Lund: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/03/in-memoriam-a-william-lund-18861971?lang=eng

The Restoration of the Priesthood

When were the four Gospels written?

Dr. Darrell Bock, one of the world’s leading historical Jesus scholars, answers questions about when the Gospels were written.

Who wrote the Gospels:

J. Warner Wallace describes the evidence for the early dating of the Gospels. Why is this issue important to those who are examining the claims of Christianity? How does early dating contribute to the reliability of the Gospel authors as eyewitnesses? What other problem does early dating resolve?

Jim Wallace explains that the Gospels’ differences shouldn’t be a problem.  Apparent contradictions in witness testimony is expected.  Identical accounts are not normal.

Jim Wallace explains the New Testament Chain of Custody — how the  original evidence of the New Testament was preserved.

Who are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?

Matthew:  apostle, tax collector, wrote to the Jews

Mark:  younger than other apostles, his mother was a prominent follower,  likely a teenager when Jesus was in Jerusalem, traveled with the Apostle Paul, later traveled and stayed with Peter when Peter was imprisoned in Rome, known as Peter’s Greek interpreter (Peter, as a fisherman, many not have known Greek fluently); Mark reflects Peter’s interests in spreading the Gospel among the Gentiles

Luke:  didn’t know Jesus personally, but was taught by Paul; left his job of physician and traveled with Paul; though not himself an eyewitness, he spoke to many eyewitnesses (says so at the start of his Gospel)

John: one of the Apostles; probably read the other Gospels before he wrote his own Gospel; wrote to members of the Church who already knew about Jesus;

 

https://www.lds.org/new-era/2007/01/who-are-matthew-mark-luke-and-john?lang=eng

The New Testament: 1st oral, then written

William Lane Craig explains that the Gospels were likely written at nearly the same time as Paul’s epistles (1 Corinthians 15 was penned in 55 AD).   The Book of Acts occurred in mid AD 60s (before James died and temple was destroyed in 70 AD).  Luke was written before Acts by the same author around 57 AD.  Mark’s Gospel was used by Luke, putting Mark even earlier.

The Gospels were spread orally before they were written.  But, because all those writing the Gospels were so closely connected to the events (not 30 years had passed since Jesus’ death), the authors were not writing oral traditions.  Instead, the 4 Gospel writers were doing oral histories — actually asking the many still-living eyewitnesses what had happened.  2 writers were apostles themselves, Matthew and John) and had witnessed many things first hand.

Jewish children were taught at home, school, and in the synagogue to memorize massive amounts of faithful information.  Memorization and faithful transmission was prioritized.  Jesus’ disciples surely utilized this skill.  No legend.  No mythology.  No telephone game.

Reliability of the Gospels: direct vs. indirect evidence

About a week ago a fellow stated that there’s not a shred of evidence that Jesus lived.  When I laid out a general case to this overconfident skeptic, he insisted he was still correct.  After all, he said, there’s no direct evidence for Jesus.

 

I told fellow that, unfortunately, nobody live blogged the resurrection, took selfies w/ the Apostles, or otherwise documented the events in real time.

I explained, however, that the life of Jesus consists of some of the best attested events we have from the entire Greco-Roman world.  4 biographies (Gospels) record major life events & Paul (and a few others) wrote letters and provided additional witnesses of Jesus.

Initially, eyewitnesses passed on the events orally with great precision.  Jews (now Jewish Christians) were practiced in memorizing scriptures.  The teachings of Jesus were put to memory with little difficulty.

Later, within a few decades of Jesus’ death, the eyewitnesses’ accounts were recorded into the Gospels.  It’s incredible to have something so close to the actual events.

Historians rarely have documents so close the actual events, as they do with the early New Testament manuscripts.

Later Church fathers in the 1st and 2nd centuries — Polycarp, Papias, & others — reported knowing the Gospel writers.  The four Gospel writers are:  Matthew (apostle & writer for Hebrew audience), Mark (non-apostle, Greek interpreter for Peter), Luke (non-apostle, Paul’s representative), and John (apostle).

So, based on what many others wrote, we know those Gospel writers were actual people. Of course, Paul wrote letters while he still lived.

So, no shred of evidence for Jesus?  We’ve got an embarrassment of riches when it comes to historical witnesses — direct and indirect — of Jesus!

I thought this homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace, below explains why it’s extremely reasonable to believe that Jesus lived and that the Gospels are true.  

Wallace explains that  if you lack direct testimony (an eyewitness) — a very common phenomenon — you build a case on circumstantial evidence.  Virtually all his cases are won without direct evidence or eyewitnesses.

Judges instruct jurors that direct and indirect evidence are neither entitled to greater weight than the other.

Another concern of this homicide detective: witnesses lie.  They just do.   So, you test eyewitnesses to ensure they’re trustworthy.

Test witnesses:  1) Was witness there at the crime scene?  2) Can detective corroborate witness’ presence at the scene?  3) Is witness consistent over time?  4)  Is witness biased?   Judge instructs that we must trust witness if these 4 points are confirmed.

Watch and enjoy!

This principle of witnesses also applies to the 11+ witnesses in our dispensation.   Do they pass the above test?  With flying colors, they do!

Richard Bauckman discusses his book,  “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.”