Evolution is a beautiful thing. I like to think that the Creator finds joy in putting life forms on earth and then watching how they change and develop new characteristics without any divine input or influence. That is what I would do if I were the god of worlds without number.
“Look! I put a feline mammal on the planet orbiting alpha centuari a few million years ago and just look at the characteristics it developed without my intervention.”
“Look! I put finches on the planet earth long ago, and look how it’s body shape and beak size changed without my intervening.”
“Look! I put some Trilobites on the earth during the Cambrian explosion to help prepare the earth for the arrival of larger species. Notwithstanding their having evolved different characteristics, they were not able to endure changes in the seas during the Devonian period, and were thus wiped out.”
However, the best example of evolution is humankind. We have been given agency, which means that we are capable of choosing our path through life and the eternities. Don’t you think that God is very interested in how we use our agency to learn and grow? You bet. He is watching with great interest at how we evolve spiritually. If we become like Him, we will be like him in terms of righteousness, yet our personalities and spiritual characteristics will be unique, a product of personal evolution.
So I think that evolution is a divine concept, and one that is supported by scripture. Contrary to Einstein’s assertion that nothing in the universe is left to chance, Ecclesiastes 9:11 tells us that “time and chance happeneth to them all.” That is to say, all of God’s creations are subject to events that occur as a result of the passage of time, and they are also subject to events that occur as a result of chance processes (e.g., random mutations). He is in control, yet He allows things to change and develop on their own.
Thus far I have referred to what many call microevolution. Microevolution is a scientifically proven fact, a fact that is entirely consistent with the doctrines of the gospel, as shown above. But what has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the scientific community is macroevolution. Macroevolution is the idea that life is capable of evolving from one life form to another. Sure, there is evidence suggesting that macroevolution may have occurred (the fossil record comes to mind), yet there is no conclusive evidence proving that it does occur. Macroevolution remains an inductive generalization or best guess at what might have happened in the past.
That scientists have not been able to confirm macroevolutionary changes across life forms is not surprising given that it appears wholly inconsistent with fundamental doctrines in the restored gospel. Here are 3 fundamental truths from the gospel that contradict the theory of macroevolution and its concomitant assertion that mankind, including Adam and Eve, evolved from lower species (aka, common descent).
1. We are created in the image of God. By definition, evolution refers to unguided events. If God had left the creation of Adam’s body to chance, there are so many possible outcomes that it is inconceivable that the final outcome would have looked like God. Some claim that God could have used evolution and that it just appears as though it is random to us humans. Fine, but if it just appears random - meaning that it is not - then it is not evolution, is it? I can safely say that your chances of winning the lottery, being struck by lightning, and being elected president of the USA all in one day are better than the chances of unguided evolutionary processes creating an entity in the image of our Heavenly Father.
2. God commanded all life forms to reproduce after their own kind. According to divine law, living things can only produce their own kind. This verse also refers to mankind. Mark E. Peterson wrote, “[Adam] could bring forth only after his kind according to the law of God, and he was "after the kind" or order of his Eternal Father in Heaven. No lower forms were involved” (Adam: Who Is He? p.54.). Reproduction becomes an issue when we consider that hybridization may lead to a new species and, in some cases, closely related species are unable to produce a fertile offspring, as in the case of a horse and donkey producing a sterile mule.
3. Life forms remain in the sphere in which God created them. Speaking of lower life forms, the Lord said, “And it became a living soul also. . . . for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man” (Moses 3:9). Mark E. Peterson again provides an apt interpretation of this doctrine. He wrote that this verse indicates that “all forms of life remained in the sphere in which he created them. There was no transfer from one species to another” (Ibid).
As you know, some scriptures may be considered allegorical in the sense that they are just symbolic representations of actual events. This may certainly be the case with the creation of the world, the creation of Adam’s physical body, and the Fall of Adam. I don’t know how the earth and Adam’s body were created, neither do I know how the Fall and the subsequent transformation to a telestial world took place. We are largely left to guesswork on these matters.
What I do know is that the aforementioned 3 doctrines are not allegorical. They are statements of fact that should leave no doubt in a reader’s mind as to their true message. They are as straight forward and undeniable in meaning as are the doctrines: “Men will be punished for their own sins and not Adam’s transgressions” and “Surely the Lord God will do nothing except he reveals his secrets unto his servants, the prophets.”
What more is there to say that might allow for an alternative understanding of these doctrines? Nothing. In my opinion, attempts to rationalize these doctrines in ways that allow for alternative interpretations are simply unabashed intellectualizations of the plain and simple truths of the gospel.
I bet you already knew that the earth has a spirit, but I don’t think that many of us have explored the implications of this fact. The implications include intriguing possibilities regarding the future of our earth and other planets within the solar system.
The story of Enoch in the Book of Moses is central to understanding the earth's spirit. Enoch is among the privileged few who got a first-hand look at God’s creations. God showed him the earth, all its inhabitants, and gave Enoch a glimpse of the future of mankind. Perhaps most touching, God shared with Enoch how He felt about the wickedness that prevailed upon the earth at that time, before the Flood.
As Enoch talked face-to-face with God, the Lord turned and looked down at the earth and all its wicked inhabitants and wept. Enoch said, “How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?” Put differently, Enoch queried, “How can you weep? You are God!” The Lord then shared His godly perspective with Enoch. He told Enoch that those wicked people down there were his children, and it pained Him to see them hating each other and rejecting their God. It also pained Him to know of the suffering that would soon come upon them as a result of their wickedness.
All of a sudden Enoch began to see and understand God’s perspective. As this divine perspective came upon him, he too glanced down at the inhabitants of the earth, “looked upon their wickedness and their misery, and wept.” Heartbroken over what was happening on earth, Enoch “stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.” For a moment he was privileged to see and feel as the Lord saw and felt.
Enoch’s godly sorrow intensified as his attention was turned toward the earth. God allowed him to hear the cries of our mother earth.
“Enoch looked upon the earth [and] heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face? . . . [W]hen Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth?"
God continued to show Enoch events that would transpire on the earth. When Enoch saw the crucifixion of the Savior and continued wickedness, he once again felt concern for the earth. He wept again “and cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the earth rest?”
Why was Enoch so concerned about the earth? I believe that his concern stemmed from his realizing that our mother earth is a sentient being. It has a spirit that is of a higher order than that found in the animal kingdom. The earth has an alert, attentive, and responsive spirit that understands the difference between good and evil. Because of its desire for righteousness and apparent willingness to follow the commandments of the Lord, it will be celestialized after dying. In D&C 88 we read:
“[T]he earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law - Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.”
Reading this scripture, I can’t help but wonder if the earth has moral agency - the power to choose between good and evil which is necessary for exaltation.
Given that the earth has a spirit, that it will die, and that it may have moral agency, what may we conclude about other planets?
It may be that planets like Mars and Venus are so inhospitable because they are dead. In other words, their spirits have left and now they just exist as empty shells. Mars shows evidence of having once been a vibrant planet with flowing rivers etc.; perhaps it had a spirit at one time, but this is no longer the case. Astronomers are baffled by the hostile features of Venus. If our sister planet had developed the same as earth, it would be very similar to our planet. Well, perhaps Venus was vibrant when it was alive with a living spirit, but became hostile when it died and its spirit left.
Finally if our earth has moral agency, then might the same be said for other living planets? If this be the case then it is conceivable that other planets have chosen to not follow all the commandments of God. What would happen to these less than faithful planets? Well, under this scenario, I think that some of these would be resurrected to either a telestial or terrestrial state. This kind of makes sense given that telestialized and terrestrialized human beings will need to have worlds to dwell upon, while exalted people dwell upon the celestialized earth.
Think about it this way. Perhaps Mars was not fully faithful when it was living, and so when it is resurrected, it will be resurrected as a terrestrial sphere, a home for terrestrial beings. What about Pluto? Given how cold and dark it is out there, I am thinking definitely telestial ;)
I enjoy a little bit of speculation now and then. My latest speculative endeavor is on finding the dwelling place of God. I believe that I may have found it.
The Pearl of Great Price mentions the following 4 things about the dwelling place of Heavenly Father.
A. “And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it” (Abraham 3:2).
-- His throne is in a star cluster containing large stars.
B. “These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me” (Abr. 3:3)
-- Kolob is a very large cluster of stars (It is not an individual star – see “Kokaubeam” below, point D).
C. “I have set this one [Kolob] to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.”
--- The star cluster known as Kolob influences all the other stars and planets that circle around in the spiral arms of our galaxy, including our sun. This influence includes gravitational force. Scientists speculate that many galaxies have an immense gravity well in their center (their best guess is to call them black holes because those are the only entities known to man that are capable of creating the gravitational pull needed to keep a galaxy together). The immense source of gravity could very well be a globular (“tightly packed”) cluster of super giant stars.
D. “Kokaubeam, which signifies stars, or all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven . . . [and] Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam that thou hast seen, because it is nearest unto me” (Abraham 3: 13, 16).
--- There are multiple star clusters near His throne, but the greatest cluster of them all is the location of His throne (called Kolob).
Points A, B, C, and D seem to suggest that His dwelling place is the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The center of our galaxy is obstructed from our view by dust, and rightfully so. Were it not for this dust, we might be inundated with light and other unwanted rays on a continual basis. But thanks to imaging technology on board the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, we are able to view the center of the galaxy with infrared sensors.
The picture below is a composite of over 2000 infrared images taken by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. It shows what the center of our galaxy looks like. Here is how one astronomer described the features in the picture:
“Clouds of glowing gas and dark dust as well as three large star clusters are visible. Magnetic fields may be channeling plasma along the upper left near the Arches Cluster, while energetic stellar winds are carving pillars near the Quintuplet Cluster on the lower left. The massive Central Cluster of stars surrounding Sagittarius A is visible on the lower right” (Source: APOD).
Here is my interpretation:
Clouds of glowing gas and dark dust as well as three large Kokaubeam are visible. The most massive Kokaubeam (star cluster) visible on the lower right is a probable location for the dwelling place of God (Kolob).
The scriptures tell us that when the Savior comes at the Second Coming He will reveal secrets about the heavens above and the earth below. All scholarly minded latter-day saints take note! You don’t want to miss the meeting where he tells everyone how the world was created.
Another interesting question about the Millennium is, what will science be like? Will it be like it is today? Will it be run by the Church of God? Will it not change at all?
Let me start by saying that I am sure there will be science during the Millennium, just as sure as I am that there will be golfing. However, whereas golfing will likely remain the same, science will undergo some changes. What kind of changes? The same kind of changes that the political government will undergo.
Brigham Young taught that during the Millennium the political kingdom on earth will “grow out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it is not the church.” I take this to mean that politics will be guided by the principles of righteousness found in the Church, but it will not be directed by the Church. Think about it this way, Deseret Book is an outgrowth of the Church and it adheres to the doctrines of the gospel, but it is not the Church.
The same can be said about millennial science. During the Millennium I believe that science will be founded on principles of righteousness, but it will not be the Church. Scientists will be free to pursue any scientific endeavor they choose, but they will do so with an eye single to the glory of God and in a manner consistent with the doctrines of the Church.
This state of affairs between science and the Church means that millennial scientists will likely expunge the moral relativism and atheistic dogma that are endemic in science today. Moreover, given the state of righteousness that will prevail, the presence of resurrected beings, and the increased outpouring of the Light of Christ, I predict that scientific discoveries will multiply at an unprecedented pace.
On a final note, we know that the lamb and the lion will co-exist in peace during the Millennium, but will the evolutionists and non-evolutionists be able to co-exist in peace as well?