Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/FutureMissionary.com/Mormon Beliefs & Science

Table of Contents



A FairMormon Analysis of:
FutureMissionary.com
A work by author: Anonymous

A FairMormon Analysis of FutureMissionary page "Mormon Beliefs & Science"

FAIRMORMON'S VIEW OF THE CRITICS' CONCLUSIONS


The positions that the FutureMissionary article "Mormon Beliefs & Science" appears to take are the following:

  • That Latter-day saints must hold to fundamentalist beliefs that conflict with science. This is not true.

FAIRMORMON'S RESPONSE AND SUPPORTING DATA


The author(s) of FutureMissionary.com make(s) the following claim:

The website quotes Joseph Fielding Smith as saying, “I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory [of evolution] of the origin of man, and at the same time accept the plan of salvation as set forth by the Lord our God.”

FairMormon Response

  • Note that this Joseph Fielding Smith quote was originally presented by the site as part of a "First Presidency statement." This was incorrect.
  • Church members are not required to reject evolution. Many believe the God used evolution as part of His divine plan of creation.

|quote=

  • In 2002, Gordon B. Hinckley gave us a perspective on evolution that is somewhat more recent than the 1909 quote favored by FutureMissionary:

What the church requires is only belief 'that Adam was the first man of what we would call the human race.' Scientists can speculate on the rest.

Gordon B. Hinckley in 2002; cited in Elaine Jarvik, "Beliefs on Darwin's evolution vary from religion to religion," Deseret Morning News (19 January 2006).

|link= Mormonism and science/Evolution/Official stance |subject=Evolution (official statements) |summary=What is the Church's stance on the theory of organic evolution? }}

The author(s) of FutureMissionary.com make(s) the following claim:

The question is posed by the website, "Does the sun get its light from Kolob?"

FairMormon Response

  • We all know that the sun generates its light through thermonuclear fusion, and this is a question which no investigator would ever be likely to ask.
  • The Book of Abraham states that “the sun [is said] to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power (Abraham Fac 2,Fig 5).
  • There are many scriptures or statements by the prophets that seem to have scientific implications. Unfortunately, they are never couched in modern scientific terms and their meanings are often very obscure. So it is hard to decide who is more foolish — the faithful saint, who interprets them in a way that forces them into agreement with some current view of science, or the faithless critic, who purposely interprets them in a way that is most at odds with current scientific thought. These verses from Abraham admit a variety of interpretations. The suggestion that Abraham must have taught that the photons leaving the surface of the sun originally came from Kolob is completely unjustified.

|quote= |link=Book of Abraham/Astronomy/Kolob-Sun |subject=Relationship between Kolob and the Sun |summary=The Book of Abraham states that “the sun [is said] to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power (Abraham Fac 2,Fig 5),” while astrophysics has shown that “The Sun shines ... because of thermonuclear fusion. It does not get its light from any other star.” }}

The author(s) of FutureMissionary.com make(s) the following claim:

The website claims that "According to the Book of Abraham, God lives on a planet called Kolob which gives the sun its light."

FairMormon Response

  • This is incorrect. The Book of Abraham does NOT say that God "lives on a planet called Kolob." It says that Kolob is "near unto" God. Kolob appears to be the name of a star.

|quote=

  • Abraham 3:3

And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.

|link= |subject= |summary= }}

The author(s) of FutureMissionary.com make(s) the following claim:

The website asks, "What about the dinosaurs?" It goes on to state that "There was no death before the fall of Adam, not even the death of animals."

FairMormon Response

  • Some LDS leaders have interpreted LDS scripture to teach that there was no death prior to the Fall of Adam for all plants and animals.
  • Some LDS leaders have seen pre-Fall death of plants and/or animals as compatible with LDS doctrine, with the doctrine of "no death" applying only to Adam and Eve within the garden, and not the wider physical creation.
  • There is no official doctrine on the matter, and members in good standing have held both positions.

|quote= |link=Mormonism and science/Death before the Fall |subject=Death before the Fall |summary=Does LDS doctrine require a belief that there was no death before the Fall of Adam? }}

The author(s) of FutureMissionary.com make(s) the following claim:

The website speculates, "Though there is no official doctrine, this narrows it down to only a handful of possibilities." They then quote two possibilities: 1) That humans and dinosaurs coexisted and only went extinct a few thousand years ago and 2) That they never existed alive on this earth at all.

FairMormon Response

  • The website omits the third (and most popular) option listed on the FAIR Wiki page from which this material was taken: That the earth is very old, that there was death before the Fall, and that the dinosaurs lived and died in a era long before the story of Adam and Eve begins.
  • The Church does not take an official position on this issue.

|quote= |link=Mormonism and science/Dinosaurs |subject=Dinosaurs |summary=How do dinosaurs fit into God's plan? }}

The author(s) of FutureMissionary.com make(s) the following claim:

The website poses the rather offensive question, "Where did black people come from?" They then answer that "According to the Book of Mormon and LDS interpretations of the Bible, dark skin is brought on by wickedness."

FairMormon Response

  • The "Curse of Cain" was a Protestant invention that was used as a religious justification for slavery in the 1800's.

|quote= |link=Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood/The "curse of Cain" and "curse of Ham" |subject=The "curse of Cain" and "curse of Ham" |summary=We often hear that Latter-day Saints believe and teach that blacks are descendents of Cain, and that they are cursed. In fact, on some occasions prior to 1978, blacks were denied access to temple open houses because they carried the “mark of Cain.” What critics never point out, however, is that the "curse of Cain" is a Protestant invention that was created in order to justify slavery in the 1800's. One would get the impression listening to critics that the Latter-day Saints originated the idea of the curse, and they point to the priesthood ban as evidence of such, while ignoring that fact of segregated congregations in Protestant churches of that era. }}

Response to claim: The website poses the question, "How old is the Earth?"

The author(s) of FutureMissionary make(s) the following claim:

The website poses the question, "How old is the Earth?"

FairMormon Response

Question: How do we reconcile the actual age of the earth to the "seven thousand years of its continuance" mentioned in D&C 77:6?

The Doctrine and Covenants speaks of the earth's "seven thousand years of continuance, or its temporal existence"

Doctrine and Covenants 77:6–7 contains the only canonized statement specifically identifying the age of the earth:

6 Q[uestion]. What are we to understand by the book which John saw,[1] which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A[nswer]. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
7 Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?
A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.

The phrase "temporal existence" of the earth does not include the creative and preparatory period

The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, (2002) chapter "Section 77 Questions and Answers on the Book of Revelation" states that the seven thousand years "do not include the period of our planet's creation and preparation as a dwelling place for man."

D&C 77:6–7. Why Was the Book Sealed That John Saw?

“‘The book which John saw’ represented the real history of the world—what the eye of God has seen, what the recording angel has written; and the seven thousand years, corresponding to the seven seals of the Apocalyptic volume, are as seven great days during which Mother Earth will fulfill her mortal mission, laboring six days and resting upon the seventh, her period of sanctification. These seven days do not include the period of our planet’s creation and preparation as a dwelling place for man. They are limited to Earth’s ‘temporal existence,’ that is, to Time, considered as distinct from Eternity.” (Whitney, Saturday Night Thoughts, p. 11.)

The chronological extent of the earth's creative period is not detailed specifically in scripture.

It should be noted that these verses refer to the Book of Revelation, which is well-known for its dense numerical symbolism. It may, then, be premature to regard such numbers as literal and precise.

Scriptures are not intended to provide scientific information

The language in our scriptures from which such dating of the "age of the earth" is drawn is not intended to provide the kinds of scientific information that some people insist on having. Brigham Young stated that we have no revealed knowledge on the topic:

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 in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. If we understood the process of creation there would be no mystery about it, it would be all reasonable and plain, for there is no mystery except to the ignorant.
Brigham Young, (May 14, 1871) Journal of Discourses 14:116. (emphasis added)

The scriptures do not specify the age of the Earth

The placement of Adam at 4,000 BC has a rather long history. Perhaps the most famous attempt was made by the Irish Anglican Bishop of Ussher, who calculated the date as 4,004 (and even calculated it down to the month and day!). Such a dating, however, is not in our scriptures, even if a version of it has been included into our Bible Dictionary.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism article "Earth," states unequivocally:

The scriptures do not say how old the earth is, and the Church has taken no official stand on this question. Nor does the Church consider it to be a central issue for salvation. [2]

There are varying opinions among Latter-day Saints on the age of the earth. Some believe in a "young earth." Many Saints accept an old earth in the billions of years. Many probably have no strong opinions or thoughts one way or the other.


Brigham Young (1871): "whether the Lord...made it in six days or in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject"

Brigham Young:

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 in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. If we understood the process of creation there would be no mystery about it, it would be all reasonable and plain, for there is no mystery except to the ignorant.[3]


John S. Lewis: "Considering that Doctrine and Covenants 77:6 refers to “…this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence,” what led Phelps to speak of Earth as 2,555 million years old?"

The antiquity of Earth was a subject of active debate in the early nineteenth century. Some adherents of a conservative interpretation of scripture ignored or sought to explain away the overwhelming evidence from geology. The more liberal scientific interpretations of geological history suggested an age of 100,000 to millions of years for Earth. Almost alone, W. W. Phelps, Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham scribe, offered a vastly larger perspective. In the Times and Seasons, a letter from Phelps to the Prophet’s brother William states:

That eternity, agreeable to the records found in the catacombs of Egypt, has been going on in this system [Page 76](not the world)3 almost 2555 millions of years; and to know that deists, geologists and others are trying to prove that matter must have existed hundreds of thousands of years:—it almost tempts the flesh to fly to God, or muster faith like Enoch to be translated and see and know as we are seen and known!


...
Considering that Doctrine and Covenants 77:6 refers to “…this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence,” what led Phelps to speak of Earth as 2,555 million years old? The answer appears to be straightforward. Though 7000 Earth years is in conflict with all physical, chemical, genetic, archaeological, and linguistic evidence, 7000 years of God is not ruled out. The arithmetic is easy. One day of God is 1000 years of man, and therefore in Joseph Smith’s reckoning, a day of God is 365 × 1000 days of man. The 2.555 billion years in question therefore corresponds to 2,555,000,000/365,000 years of God, which is 7000 years of God for each day of Earth’s existence. A more careful calculation, using the true average length of the year including leap years (365.257 days) gives 2,556,799,000 Earth years. Clearly Joseph Smith did not intend the “7000 years” of Earth’s age to refer to Earth years.[4] —(Click here to continue)

John S. Lewis, "The Scale of Creation in Space and Time,"

  1. The passage is referring to the book seen in Revelation 5:1.
  2. Morris S. Petersen, "Earth," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 2:431. off-site
  3. Brigham Young, (14 May 1871) Journal of Discourses 14:116.
  4. John S. Lewis, "The Scale of Creation in Space and Time," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 8:71-80 (27 December 2013).