36) OPPOSING WORLD VIEWS: How does a providential world view differ from an evolutionary world view? Which view should be taken by Latter-day Saints?

Commentary

“Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.. . . So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” 1

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Did the sun and moon literally stand still? Does God control the elements? Are the miracles of the scriptures only fairy tales or accounts that stretched reality as they improved over repeated telling?

The way we answer these questions shapes the way we look at the world and live our lives. President Joseph F. Smith taught that those who lack faith in the miraculous accounts of the Creation and Fall as recorded in the standard works will invariably lack faith in other scriptural witnesses as well.

“Some . . . limit the power of God to the power of men, and we have some of these among us and they have been among our school teachers. They would have you disbelieve the inspired accounts of the Scriptures . . . but we know better . . . . And I say, beware of men who come to you with heresies that things come by laws of nature of themselves, and that God is without power.” 2

Beware of those who say that things come by laws of nature of themselves . . .

Who in our day is saying that the Creation came by the laws of nature alone? It would be difficult to summarize Darwin’s theory of natural selection more elegantly.

“There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection than in the course which the wind blows.” 3

There are two entirely different views that can be taken of the earth’s history. One includes God as an active participant in the Creation and Upholding of our system. The other ignores God and speaks only of natural laws and chance occurances. The one in based upon a wise Intelligence, who Governs in wisdom and love, the other deals with chance, time and randon processes. Which view is taken in scripture? Miracles are those occurrences performed by the Priesthood authority of God which could not take place without His Supreme Intervention. The Prophet Jacob explained that faith to believe that God could create this earth through His Word is linked to faith in His ability to control the elements:

Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure? 4

An additional warning linking the Creation of the earth with a belief in miracles throughout history comes from the Book of Mormon. Moroni, after seeing our day in vision, spoke of those who would deny the role of God in the Creation of man, the earth and the universe:

“Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?” 5

Are the laws of chance responsible for the wonders of the universe? What role does the omnipotence of God play in the upholding of the cosmos? In response to the question of whether faith, priesthood authority and laws beyond scientific comprehension were involved in the Creation, the words of Joseph Smith add clarity:

“It was by faith that the worlds were framed. God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of the faith there was in HIM. So with man also; he spake by faith in the name of God, and the sun stood still, the moon obeyed, mountains removed . . . and all this by reason of the faith which was in him. . . without power there could be no creation nor existence!” 6

One must decide if the literalistic scriptural interpretation of the prophets of God, including the latter-day Presidents of the Church, is accurate. Are the scriptural accounts accurate history and science? Do the scriptures discuss literal events and occurrences? The scriptures teach that truth is truth and includes an accurate description of current events, history and events that will occur in the future.

“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” 7

As mentioned, the view that is taken in understanding the Creation also affects the world view of other events as well. Those who believe in an Omnipotent Creator also see God’s influence in the rise and fall of governments, the destruction or prosperity of cities and even the climate and conditions that are experienced by individuals. President Ezra Taft Benson warned of those who deny Gods influence in His Creations.

Today, students are subjected in their textbooks and classroom lectures to a subtle propaganda that there is a “natural” or rational explanation to all causes and events. Such a position removes the need for faith in God . . . 8

Some examples of contrasting world views have been observed by prophets of God. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that the Great Depression was caused by the wickedness of the people here in the United States:

Depression has come because we have forsaken God. Now, I am not speaking of the Latter-day Saints when I say that. I make this saying [in] general application. The people of this nation, and the people of other nations, have forsaken the Lord. We have violated his laws. We have failed to hearken to his promises. We have not considered that we were under obligation to keep his commandments, and the laws of the land as well as the laws of God are not respected. The Sabbath day has become a day of pleasure, a day of boisterous conduct, a day in which the worship of God has departed, and the worship of pleasure has taken its place. I am sorry to say that many of the Latter-day Saints are guilty of this. We should repent. 9

Those taking a naturalistic or evolutionary worldview would disagree with President Smith. They would argue that breaking the Sabbath day or participating in boisterous conduct can have nothing to do with the economy. When discussing the economy they would feel that it should have nothing to do with religion. Another example of dispute could be the destruction of a city by fire. The naturalistic or evolutionary perspective would teach that if a city is destroyed by a physical cause that it could have nothing to do with the righteousness or wickedness of the people in the city. They would suggest that the cause of destruction was the chance selection of a poor location. The Lord feels differently. After the destructions in America, the Lord proclaimed that he had destroyed the inhabitants:

And because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them.

And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations.
O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. 10

Note that the Lord explains that He is the one who destroyed the wicked, not the unfortunate choice of location by those who founded the cities. Also, note that in the same breath the Lord explains that as he has performed these destructions upon the wicked, the people should remember that He is the Creator of all things. The Lord’s work in the Creation is almost always cited when discussing miracles. A belief in miracles and a belief in the Creation always go hand in hand. In these last days, the Lord has testified that after His servants have proclaimed the Gospel to the inhabitants of the earth He will send another witness:

For after your testimony cometh the testimony . . . of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds. And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people. 11

In the Creationist worldview the Lord is sending the testimony of lightnings, tempests and destruction. In the evolutionary view these events occur strictly because of natural laws and they would happen whether the people were righteous or wicked. Those who believe that the Lord can control the climate and that the Lord can bring about destruction or turn it away will be looking in these last days for the signs of His Second Coming. Those that feel that natural occurrences will occur either way won’t really care. Those who can see the Lord’s hand in the Creation will also see the Lord’s hand in the signs of the last days.

And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man. And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath. 12

Prophetic Statements

Brigham Young

A false principle, a false theory, whether in mechanism or philosophy, requires much argument and superior talent to sustain it, but when the truth is presented it commends itself to the understanding of the people so readily that it requires no great amount of learning to substantiate it, nor much skill to declare it to the honest who want truth, and it remains firm and sound. 13

Darwinist and Neo-Darwinist

Corliss Lamont

One of the most articulate spokesmen for secular humanism is Corliss Lamont.  In a lucid textbook entitled “The Philosophy of Humanism,” he outlines the ten tenets on which modern secular humanism rests.  Paraphrased, they are listed below…

  1. All reality is what we perceive ‑ there is no super natural.
  2. Man is a product of evolution and has no soul after death.
  3. Humanity must solve its own problems using only reason and the scientific method.
  4. Human beings are, within certain scientifically defined limits, masters of their own destiny.
  5. All ethics and morality are derived from the experiences of the human race.
  6. The “good life” is obtained by working for self‑development and the welfare of the community.
  7. The works of nature are to receive the adoration of mankind.
  8. Only through a global democracy will mankind obtain peace and prosperity.
  9. Reason and the scientific method should pervade all aspects of the human life.
  10. Humanism is still a developing philosophy. 14

References:

  1. Joshua 10:12–13
  2. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 372
  3. Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, p. 87
  4. Jacob 4:9
  5. Mormon 9:17
  6. Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, p. 5
  7. D&C 93:24
  8. Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 320
  9. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 3: 24
  10. 3 Nephi 9:11–15
  11. D&C 88:89–91
  12. D&C 45:39–40
  13. Journal of Discourses, 18:361
  14. Eric N. Skousen, The Power People, 1980

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