Evolution is all around us. But so also are majestic creations. It makes perfect sense to me that if things (and people) continue to evolve over the eons, that eventually at least one of them would reach perfection. Evolution and creation can work together for our benefit.
How did "it" all begin? A Big Bang? A Creator? Or did it just never begin? What is "it" anyway? Whatever the answer, I don't think my finite mind is capable of comprehending the answer. (Some people have insinuated in these pages that I can't comprehend much of anything...) Eventually, however, I think we will be able to comprehend it.
My personal perspective is that evolution can take any of three forms: (1) Natural selection: where, over millions and billions of years, gene mutations tend toward survival of those life forms best suited to engage their environment (2) Artificial selection, wherein external actors breed or cultivate for preferred characteristics, and (3) divine selection, where a being who has evolved to perfection--which I like to call God--assists us in our eternal progression.
Evolution does not necessarily conflict with LDS doctrine. Actually, LDS doctrine is rather silent on the subject. In 1925, the LDS Church released what seems to be the only official position by the Church on anything related to evolution, which is an affirmation of
the doctrine that Adam was the first man upon the earth and that he was created in the image of God.
Were there pre-Adamites (i.e. manlike creatures before Adam)? The Church does not have an official stance, because God has not chosen to reveal the answer. In light of all the evidence in favor of pre-Adamic hominids, I happen to believe that such beings existed. Such a belief does not harm my testimony of the gospel in the least. In fact, I think it helps it.
If evolution doesn't conflict with doctrine, it just might be true (at least parts of it). If so, we should seek to understand it, to find out for ourselves whether it is true. LDS Church president John Taylor gave this wise counsel:
If there is any truth in heaven, earth, or hell, I want to embrace it;It doesn't matter where the truth comes from, even if it comes, for example, from a book by such a renowned atheist as Richard Dawkins.
LDS Church president David O. McKay gave it as his opinion that much of evolution makes sense. He said:
The thing you need to remember about evolution is that the Lord has never revealed anything about the matter. I believe in evolution. [But] believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued, slow progress.In other words, beings can evolve toward perfection, where they can harness the laws of nature to create and to bless. So, then, why can't a perfect being, regardless of how they got that way, short circuit the evolutionary process, as it were, by a form of "divine selection". If God can create worlds and people those worlds with his spirit children, does that fly in the face of evolution? No. I think it supports it.
A perfect being would not only have a complete understanding of how the universe works and is organized, he or she would also know how to organize the Universe and work with it. With that perspective, it suddenly seems less "magical" for a perfected being to be involved in such things as:
- Appearing instantaneously to their prophets on earth
- Teaching one of those prophets to part the waters of a gigantic sea so that a group of people could pass through on dry ground
- Healing of the sick and the afflicted
- Causing the entire earth to be engulfed in a flood
- Causing a virgin to conceive and bear that perfected being's only begotten son, sent to save the world because they do not have a perfect understanding of how the universe works and is organized.
A perfectly evolved being would seemingly love his or her creations so much that he or she (actually, I think "they" is the better pronoun to use here) would probably want to share all of the knowledge they had with those creations. Interestingly, one of those perfect beings has told us that such is the intent in at least one instance.
this is my awork and my bglory—to bring to pass the cimmortality and deternal elife of man.
Once we come to believe in evolution, and that through the various forms of "selection" described above, it is possible to become perfected, it seems pretty easy to fathom that there could already be more than one such perfect being. Some people say that such a belief doesn't conform to the dictates of science. However, it is eminently logical. So, if logic isn't considered part of science, I think it oughta be!!