Are God and Evolution Mutually Exclusive?
Years ago, Joseph Fielding Smith, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote a book entitled Man: His Origin and Destiny that to some extent lampooned the theory of evolution. Then LDS Church President David O. McKay was none too impressed with Smith's writings, as well as his premature conclusions. At that time, McKay stated
The thing you need to remember about evolution is that the Lord has never revealed anything about the matter. People have their opinions but the Lord has not revealed the details of how he created the earth.
David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, Gregory A. Prince and Wm. Robert Wright, page 46
Privately, McKay was of the opinion that evolution made eminent sense. I think he would have enjoyed Kenneth Miller's Finding Darwin's God as much as I have so far.
There is no disputing that evolution has and does occur all the time. By definition, "evolution" is historical, says Miller.
It means that the past was characterized by a process in which present-day species can be traced back to similar, but distinctly different ancestors.
Finding Darwin's God, page 53
In the second case, "evolution" refers to a theory--not that this modification happened, but how it happened.
It is also beyond dispute that the earth has existed for billions of years. It does religionists a great deal of harm to dispute this fact, which they generally do by claiming that God created the earth in six 24-hour days and then rested on the seventh 24-hour day.
Is it possible that this earth evolved into existence? Absolutely--as, since the universe has existed for who knows how long, I wouldn't be surprised that many other earths have done. But it is my belief that this particular earth was created by God.
Is it possible that hominids evolved into existence? Not only is it possible, but it is highly probable based on the evidence that has been uncovered from the earth. But it is my belief that in the case of this particular earth, what we refer to as homo sapiens were placed here by God in the form of Adam and Eve. I wouldn't be surprised if other forms of hominid life were not only on the earth at the time Adam and Eve lived here, but it stands to reason that they may have interacted with them as well. I am not surprised that God would have created the first man and woman, but yet that they have a very similar genetic signature to other hominids and other forms of animal life. After all, it makes sense to me that God works according to natural law.
David O. McKay's opinion that evolution makes perfect sense is based on the idea that the pinnacle of evolution is perfection--i.e. God. I haven't gotten to the end of Miller's book yet, but I think he would essentially agree with that opinion. After all, Miller writes:
Does evolution really nullify all word views that depend on the spiritual? ...does it regorously exclude belief in God? My answer, in each and every case, is a resounding no. I do not say this..because evolution is wrong. Far from it. The reason...is because evolution is right.
Finding Darwin's God, page 17What I like about Mormonism is its search for all truth. Whether that truth comes from the realm of science or the spiritual, it doesn't matter. Have we been wrong before? Sure, which I suspect God smiles about. But we keep searching, and very occasionally, bits and pieces of that truth are solidified by direct revelation from God.
Are God and evolution mutually exclusive? No. Any scientist or religionist who claims so is selling himself extremely short.
Evolution is real. So, I'm quite confident, is God.