I Am Not a Monkey...Although My Husband Begs to Differ
My initial “issue” with this topic is that religious people who call in to defend “creationism” on the radio don’t come off sounding like the most intelligent people.
In any case, for this timely topic I went straight to the ultimate source on Mormon information: my mom. No seriously, she’s amazing. I asked her a question about “would you feel weird if I said this online….?” and she came back at me with nine other sources that said what I wanted to say…and this is with her internet being down. Kudos to Mo.
As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the in/famous “Scopes Monkey Trial”, we can reflect on how far we’ve come on this topic, which is to say…not so far.
We are still battling this issue in Arkansas and Kansas where parent organizations are demanding that stickers be put on science text books that say :
“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”
Only to be countered with disclaimer stickers that say :
“This book mentions Creationism, New Creationism, Scientific Creationism, or Intelligent Design. All of these beliefs rely on the action of a supernatural entity to explain life on earth. Scientists rejected supernatural explanations for life in the 1800’s, and still do today.”
But back to the monkey trial…
If you weren’t already barraged by one million radio shows on this last week check out NPR’s coverage of the trial including interviews with people who were present. This story is relevant because back in 1925, it sparked a HUGE national debate. By this time, however, the First Presidency of the Church had already published a statement declaring the Church’s official doctrine on the matter. It was first published in 1909 and was titled “The Origin of Man”. It was republished in the Ensign in 2002.
If you don’t feel like reading the article yourself here are the basics…
1. Everything (and I mean everything) was created spiritually before it was created physically.
2. And speaking of the word “created”… officially, the modern-day prophets have preferred the word “organized” to describe the act of creation. God organized us (and everything) out of existing matter. He did not conjure us out of thin air…in a vacuum…
3. While the Bible uses the word “day” to delineate the different tasks God “organized”, modern-day prophets prefer the words “creative period”. Good old Brother Brigham says that “we are not authorized” to say how long those periods were, and he coyly insinuates that no one can calculate or prove that these creative periods were of equal length!
4. God made provisions for our species, and all species, to multiply and replenish “in their own sphere”. He merely set all of this in motion and created us so that we could adapt to changing climates, extremes in geography, humidity, altitude, sunlight, etc. He “organized” this earth to be quite extraordinary.
So my personal view is to not take either side quite so literally. I don’t believe in the creationist view that God created the earth in six days, nor do I subscribe to the thought that our existence, that all intelligent existence here, was set in motion by pure freak-of-nature chance. I think the theory of evolution is fascinating and should not be shunned in the halls of learning, but I also know that science is not done with the subject yet. Really, thank goodness for modern revelation, or else I might be one of those people who call in to talk shows…oh wait…
And check out the 1960's movie "Inherit the Wind" which told the story of the famous, and ill-named "Scopes Monkey Trial".