At a meeting with about 10 students, the leader, an assertive young man in his mid-twenties, asked me questions to find out more about my beliefs. He asked, “Which church do you go to?” I replied, “A nearby church.” He asked, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ?” I replied, “Yes, I’ve accepted him as my Lord and Savior.” He asked, “Do you believe in the bible?” I replied, “Yes, I believe it is the word of God.”
I answered all his questions truthfully with the intent of showing the group that I shared many of their religious beliefs. In fact the beliefs we had in common outnumbered our differences. However, I knew that eventually they would discover that I am a Mormon. The questions continued.
“Why do you want to join our group?” I replied, “Because I like discussing the bible with others.” Then he went back the original question: “What is the name of your church?” “The Church of Jesus Christ,” I replied. I could see the wheels turning in their heads as they tried to figure out what church that was. Then one girl hit on it. “You mean the church of latter-day saints!?” she blurted. I replied, “That’s right.”
“So you’re a Mormon,” the leader said. He continued: “You can’t join our group.” “Why not?” I replied. “I want to study the bible with you and I believe in Jesus Christ.” Then someone said what I expected to hear all along: “You don’t believe in the same God that we believe in.” Members of the group then proceeded to give me several of the anti-Mormon talking points I heard on my mission. The group leader then called for a break at which point I left.
I know my friend Michelle was embarrassed by their behavior. Although she was a Born Again Christian and I a Mormon, we spent lots of time together. I guess you could say we dated for a short while, but we were more friends than anything else. We discussed the bible. We went to sporting events together. She asked me to take her to the Cardston Temple open house after it was renovated. And she invited me and my wife over to her and her husband’s place for dinner after we both married.
Recently I thought about how posting articles on evolution at mormonsandscience.com is a bit like going to the Christian bible study group. Those who attack my evolutionary posts sound a lot like the bible study group members. “You don’t know the true Jesus - You don’t understand evolution.” “You reject the true God - You reject evolution” (when actually I accept a lot of evolution). “You don’t belong in our group because you are not a believer - You should not be commenting on evolution because you are not a natural scientist.” “Your LDS church is full of falsehoods - Mormonsandscience.com is pseudo-science.”
It did not matter to the bible study group that I thought that they believed in the true God, that they embraced many correct Christian principles, and that their religion was mostly correct and good. Because I was Mormon I was heretical. In likewise manner, it does not matter to LDS evolutionists that I accept a great deal of evolution, that I believe that they understand science fairly well, and that I think that their acceptance of common descent is reasonable given the evidence. Because I reject common descent, they accuse me of being a misguided and confused scholar.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not pleading for acceptance. It does not hurt my feelings when people post nasty replies to my evolutionary posts. I do not care that I was kicked out of the Born Again Christian bible study group (I expected it), and I do not care that pro-evolution latter-day saints make false accusations against me and my site. I am confident and comfortable in what I write and that is all that matters to me.
The similarities between my experiences at the bible study session and mormonsandscience.com illustrate how intolerant and stupid people sound when they impugn me and others latter-day saints for not accepting common descent.
I am happy to say that, like my Born Again Christian friend Michelle, I receive comments at mormonsandscience.com from a couple of pro-evolutionists who are courteous and respectful. Notwithstanding our irreconcilable differences and spirited debates, we get along well and respect one another. I hold them in high regard as I did my friend Michelle. They know how to get along and disagree without being disagreeable, a Christian quality.