Adam and Eve and Evolution: Some Theories

This is a subject of perennial interest and controversy, isn’t it?  Sometimes we even hear of people having trials of faith because of apparent conflicts between scriptural history and scientific knowledge.  I thought I’d share a few of my own ideas on reconciling the two, on the off chance that they may be interesting and helpful to anyone.

Of course, these are only theories.  They’re not necessarily true.  I don’t even necessarily believe them.  I do, however, find comfort in the idea that these ideas exist, and could be true.  Still, if any authorized leader clearly refuted any or all of my ideas here, I’d immediately and gladly give them up.

 

ADAM & EVE & EVOLUTION

I’ve never understood the antipathy some have towards evolution, especially from Latter-day Saints, as a close reading of Abraham 4 practically demands something like evolution.

There’s an old rhetorical question about whether or not Adam had a belly button.  I’d say that he did because, though leaders as recent as Jeffrey R. Holland have affirmed that there was a literal Adam, the scriptural account of him being created from the dust and then having a spirit put into him leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Understanding that all life forms have a spirit in them, I wonder if the following might be accurate.  Here is a chart that crudely illustrates what I think may have happened (red lines indicate marriages, green lines indicate children).  Basically, humans may have evolved to the point where, when the time was right, two were chosen to be the first to have not just any spirit, but spirits that were children of our Heavenly Father.

 

Adam & Eve

 

Those two then married and had children.  Those children likewise, of course, had divine spirits, but they married others who did not.  The children of those unions would have one parent descended from Adam and Eve (their grandparents), and one parent not, but those children could also have inherited divine spirits.

Marriage and breeding proceeded such that, eventually, all humans could count Adam and Eve as their direct ancestors.

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The Cold Darwinian Erasers of Editorial Evolution

As writers, we wield the cold Darwinian erasers of editorial evolution.  Scrutinizing the compositional gene pool, we are a vehicle of natural selection, finding the weakest words and the unfit phrases.  We exercise the instruments of the delete keys at our fingertips, and thus remove the dead weight that threatens to hold back the success of the prose herd.  Our task is nothing less than to kill off those unlucky aspects of our writing that simply aren’t strong enough to deserve propagation. 

This should be the attitude of anyone who writes: student writers all seem to be born with a case of excessive compassion for every word they write, even the ones so obviously inferior that they can do no more than infect the surrounding writing with their ineptitude.  The mark of a good writer is the evolved ability to remove themselves from their emotional attachment to their own writing and do what must be done: the execution of those elements which simply aren’t worthy of seeing the light of day. 

This task is hard enough to develop in ourselves, much less in student writers.  Yet it is necessary for growth as someone with any talent for writing at all.  It’s been my experience as a teacher that most students can write far better than they do, but they hold back because the more intense effort needed to justify the existence of every word is more work than it’s worth: a chatty first draft is usually “good enough.” 

One thing that often helps students develop a more critical mindset, however, is discussing with them the rather morbid metaphor I opened with above.  Kids really respond to that.  Today in class I advised students to delete all of the extraneous on’s from their writing.  Someone joked that I was “killing all the poor little on’s!”  I replied, “I plead guilty to the crime of prepositional genocide!”  A hearty round of applause erupted.  Disturbing, possibly, but productive. 

 

Daily Beast Praises Mormons For Embracing Science

Excellent.  Today, the Daily Beast recognizes Romney and Huntsman’s uniquely pro-science stances in this presidential campaign as reflecting the nature of their faith.

One of many great quotes:

From the very founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its leaders have allowed scientific thought to coexist with their teachings, sometimes in ways that were radical for their time. Modern Mormon scientists, for instance, are quick to quote Brigham Young, who said in 1871, “In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular… whether the Lord found the earth empty and void, whether he made it out of nothing or out of the rude elements; or whether he made it in six days or as many millions of years.”

Evolution Expelled

I haven’t seen Ben Stein’s Expelled–his alleged expose of how evolutionary scientists who also believe in God are systematically silenced in the academic world–but I’ve read enough detailed reviews to suppose that it’s a political hack job on the order of your average Michael Moore dreck.  Significant quotes and interviews (even some that Stein actually filmed) are left out of the movie, and logical fallacies are piled on top of each other to make sinister implications that can’t be defended rationally. 

Too bad.  Rather than go into all the counter-productive nonsense of Intelligent Design activism, I’ll reprint my essay that ran in Las Vegas CityLife, a liberal weekly, about two and a half years ago:

I’m breaking ranks here. I wouldn’t hesitate to describe myself as a conservative and a Christian, but on at least one recent national issue, we’re just wrong. There’s been a lot of talk lately about including a discussion of intelligent design in science classes, even the bizarre idea of defining evolution and intelligent design as “equal theories.”

Isn’t this creating a conflict that many of us have long privately avoided by realizing that there is not anything inherently anti-religious about evolution?

If intelligent design is just evolution plus God, then what’s the point in teaching intelligent design? What exactly does it add to the teaching of science? Obviously, the only purpose it could possibly serve is to help convince students of the existence of God. This is where the conservative argument shows its fanatical side — even if we’re right, even if we can reasonably infer the existence of a purposeful guiding hand from a close study of evolution (and that may well be the case), this concept has no place in a classroom.

How is a science class — a public science class where the majority of families today probably want to avoid a discussion of religion like the plague — an appropriate arena to pontificate about theology? The whole scenario reeks of Orwell.

This is not an instance of America’s paranoid fear and irrational dismissal of all things Christian (a very real trend); this is not about squelching anybody’s public expression of belief or whitewashing the historical values of our great republic. Conservative editorials I’ve read on this subject are quite straightforward about their agenda here — they want to promote a belief in God in the classroom. Not just allow or mention, but promote.

The Christian complaint is that modern society has steadily eroded the long-standing Christian infrastructure of America, but when was God ever the answer to a question in our science classes? Nothing’s being protected or restored here.

What also bothers me is that we’re playing right into the hands of our critics. Why would conservative Christians actually indulge in the kind of intolerant indoctrination they’ve so long been unfairly accused of, and have spent so much time defending themselves against?

When did religious Americans become so desperate? Isn’t it a staple of conservative thought that you don’t force others to accept your views, that when you want to have a debate, you go to the marketplace of ideas? If intelligent design is so viable an idea that it deserves a place alongside Darwin, prove it through the media, but don’t try to weasel it in with the established curriculum.

After your children learn how amazingly complex the mechanisms of life are, if you want them to understand that those intricate processes are the handiwork of God, you’re free to tell them so … at home.

http://www.lasvegascitylife.com/articles/2005/11/03/opinion/guest_commentary/youropinion.txt