In this episode of “FAIR Conversations,” associate professor of biology Steven L. Peck discusses the relationship between science and religion. Latter-day Saints have long praised the blessings of science, including medical advances and various technological developments. But our relationship with various scientific theories hasn’t invariably been particularly cozy, particularly on the subject of evolution. A 2009 Pew Forum survey asking respondents if evolution is the best explanation for human life discovered that the general American public is evenly divided, with 48% saying it is the best explanation and 45% rejecting that position. Strikingly, only 22% of Mormons say it is the best explanation for human life, with three-in-four (75%) disagreeing. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses rank lower, at 90%.
Although the survey’s phrasing may skew the stats a little, Peck feels that many Latter-day Saints do reject evolution without knowing that Mormons need not do so. In part one of this episode, Peck gives a basic overview of the idea of “science” and how it helps us better understand the world. He also outlines the theory of evolution and describes some of its yet-to-be-solved puzzles. He tackles a few common questions like: “Science has been so wrong in the past, how can we rely on it in the present with any confidence?” and “If evolution is true, why don’t we see half monkey-men walking around today?”
Incidentally, Peck also recently published a great fictional book called The Scholar of Moab. It can be purchased at Amazon.com.
Note: This episode has a few technical glitches, you will hear some light pops and skips through the beginning of the interview. Questions or comments about this episode can be sent to [email protected]. Or, join the conversation in the comments here at fairblog.org.
Gary James Bergera, “The 1911 Evolution Controversy at Brigham Young University,” (from the volume, Search for Harmony: Essays on Science and Mormonism, eds. Gene A. Sessions and Craig J. Oberg, Signature Books, 1993).
James M. McLachlan, “W.H. Chamberlin and the Quest for a Mormon Theology,” Dialogue 29, no. 4 (Winter 1996)
Duane E. Jeffery, “Seers, Savants, and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface,” Dialogue 34, no. 1 (Spring 2001). This is an updated version of the original article, which was published in Dialogue 8, no. 3/4 (Autumn/Winter 1974).
Steven L. Peck, “Crawling Out of the Primordial Soup: A Step toward the Emergence of an LDS Theology Compatible with Organic Evolution,” Dialogue 43, no. 1 (Spring 2010).
Essay by Peck, “Why Mormons Should Embrace Evolution.” (Posted as a guest blogger at Jana Riess’s blog, Flunking Sainthood.)
My book review of a recent book on evolution by the late Howard C. Stutz: “Let the Earth Bring Forth.” A few other sources I drew on to prepare for the podcast include Thomas Dixon’s Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction and Conor Cunningham’s Darwin’s Pious Idea.
(My gratitude to Dan Wotherspoon at mormonmatters.org,who put together this useful collection.)
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