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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Origin of Man

by Saint Mark (bio)

A few years ago, I fulfilled one of the five things I want to do before I die: I went to the Galapagos Islands. It thrilled my soul to swim in a bay with a penguin, three sea lions and a marine iguana. As I walked the archipelago, I couldn't help but feel that the Galapagos Islands and the adolescent stage in which its flora and fauna exist are a microcosm of Genesis, when God formed the earth.

I believe, as Joseph Smith believed, that the earth is billions of years old and that it was a form of evolutionary development which saw the earth develop from disorganized matter to organized matter, from single-celled organisms to a Pre-Cambrian explosion of multi-celled creatures that eventually became the plant and animal life we now dwell among.

Having sailed in the same bays and around the same islands as Charles Darwin in The Beagle, though, my intuition diverged from Darwin's. I did not extend that evolutionary development to Mankind. Although there were other Neanderthals who appeared like Man, Adam was not one of them. I believe Eve and Adam were the first Woman and Man on the earth. They are my ancestors and the entire human family flows from them.

Is Science Infallible?

I know science may disagree, but it is good to remember that science is only one form of acquiring knowledge. Personal experience, historical accounts and the promptings of the Holy Ghost are three others that come to mind. And we must remember that science is fallible. To say science has never been wrong makes me consider the Wright brothers, the breaking of the sound barrier, man setting foot on the moon or Star Trek cell phones. It was scientists who said that smoking was healthy for you and that Thalidomide wouldn't harm fetuses if mothers with morning sickness took it. On the origin of Man, science and I simply diverge.

My viewpoint wasn't derived sua sponte. I pondered, considered and read the differing arguments. The one that captivated me the most was one penned by President Joseph F. Smith entitled, "The Origin of Man."

The Origin of Man

In A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confronted the issue of evolution. "In the early 1900s, questions concerning the creation of the earth and the theories of evolution became the subject of much public discussion. In the midst of these controversies, the First Presidency issued [The Origin of Man Proclamation] in 1909, which expresses the Church’s doctrinal position on these matters."

Here are some of the proclamation's insights:

"It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men."

"True it is that the body of man enters upon its career as a tiny germ embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is, and the child, after being born, develops into a man. There is nothing in this, however, to indicate that the original man, the first of our race, began life as anything less than a man, or less than the human germ or embryo that becomes a man."

If President Joseph F. Smith was a prophet, and I believe he was, and God the Father is the Father of our spirits, and I believe He is, then the origin of Man is not a mystery; it is divinity.

The Fruits

If anything I believe that the fruits of evolution and creation or intelligent design theories speak for themselves. If evolution is true then I am nothing but a random, chemical accident that is based upon chance survival and development. On the other hand, if I am a child of God, then I have divine potential and infinite capacity to love and serve and overcome. Under evolution, I have no purpose. Under creation, my life has eternal significance. Just based on overall feelings, which would you prefer?

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