I recently spent part of an evening with a young couple of whom the wife was a science teacher.
During our conversation she expressed some frustration about the idea of religious fundamentalists in our country making it difficult to teach what she knew as fact- that the (mostly Darwinian) theory of evolution provides the best known explanation for biological diversity in general. I did not get an opinion from her on the theory of evolution as it relates to the origins of humans in particular.
I found very little to disagree about with her on this question.
What makes this interesting is that she and her husband are (at least nominally and to the best of my knowledge) faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the mainline LDS church that runs Utah and Idaho).
I had to restrain myself out of politeness from telling her that (contrary to her voiced opinion) the church – if not the prophet specifically – has voiced an opinion on the question of biological evolution. And that she’d contradicted it.
The Pattern of Our Parentage – Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The Origin of Man
“I remember when I was a college student there were great discussions on the question of organic evolution. I took classes in geology and biology and heard the whole story of Darwinism as it was then taught. I wondered about it. I thought much about it. But I did not let it throw me, for I read what the scriptures said about our origins and our relationship to God. Since then I have become acquainted with what to me is a far more important and wonderful kind of evolution. It is the evolution of men and women as the sons and daughters of God, and of our marvelous potential for growth as children of our Creator.”
—President Gordon B. Hinckley, “God Hath Not Given Us the Spirit of Fear,” Ensign, Oct. 1984, 5.
By the way, it turns out that their prophet is not obligated to answer any questions on this position, but simply gets to claim full ownership of “The Truth” without needing any background knowledge on any subject. The summary follows (emphasis mine):
In conclusion let us summarize this grand key, these “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet”, for our salvation depends on them.
1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.
3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
4. The prophet will never lead the church astray.
5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
6. The prophet does not have to say “Thus Saith the Lord,” to give us scripture.
7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
8. The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.
9. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.
10. The prophet may advise on civic matters.
11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
12. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
13. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church.
14. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.
I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true. If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain—how close do our lives harmonize with the Lord’s anointed—the living Prophet—President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency.
May God bless us all to look to the Prophet and the Presidency in the critical and crucial days ahead is my prayer.
Some more reasons why I will not be joining the LDS church.