According to this study, Mormons aren’t terribly likely to accept the proposition that “evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth” (however one interprets this statement).
Rather than arguing specifically over evolution’s merits, I’m interested here in a meta-discussion of the issue. Are there peculiarly Mormon reasons for resisting evolutionary theory, or are our counterarguments basically echoing those advanced by the religious right (and likely absorbed from them)?
Possible unique sites I can see in our doctrine that may create stumbling blocks for would-be proponents of evolution:
(a) Our temple ceremony expands on (and also collapses) the creation accounts in Genesis, elevating them in prominence in our thought and perhaps also militating in favor of a literal reading of the text (although obviously without foreclosing the possibility of metaphorical readings that explicitly exclude the literal–certainly a number of Mormons I know have opted for this latter route).
(b) Our belief in an anthropomorphic God effectively insists that the human form is special in some eternal, qualitative sense. Acceptance of evolutionary theory would both break down the boundary between humans and animals and potentially cast doubt on the idea that our physiognomic particularities are anything more than happenstance.
Does Mormon theology, from your perspective, present a suite of challenges different from other denominations for those who wish to reconcile evolution with revealed truth? Are there other potential problems for accepting evolution that you can see that are unique to Mormonism–or conversely, ways in which Mormon thought is particularly amenable to the claims of evolutionary biologists? What exactly is at issue in accepting or rejecting evolutionary theory?
- 27 August 2009