As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I've seen situations where concepts and beliefs I hold dear were challenged, disputed, and occasionally mocked. Tragically, I've seen circumstances where the reverse was also true. A predominant mob-arousing idea in these parts, at least as far as I have noticed, is that pesky little devil, Evolution. There is a lot more room for us as participating members of our church to be open-minded about evolution.
Whoa! Whoa! Hey! Put down the pitchforks and eggs, people. Hear me out for a moment. Whether you like it or not, we live in a world of science and scientific theory. Historically, there have been many scientific ideas originally rejected by the major religious bodies that are now cherished and accepted by all (excluding my friend, who thinks the world is actually shaped like a microwave burrito).
Now, church leaders of our faith have never taken any sort of stance against science. In fact, we have a strong history of embracing it. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a world-renowned heart surgeon. Elder Richard G. Scott was a nuclear engineer. Advances in varied sciences like oncology and aerodynamics and psychology have blessed the lives of millions, including members of our church. The hand of God has been evidenced in these fields. Why should fields like archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology be excluded?
Here are a few facts everyone can generally agree on. Things evolve. This is documented, and it affects many creatures. Finches on the Galapagos Islands developed different-shaped beaks depending on their favorite foods. Horses and donkeys were once the same creature, as substantiated by their odd little offspring, the mule. Two-time Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank started out in Karate Kid 3.
Are we descended from monkeys? I have a brother whose very existence could open my family up to investigation. Really, though, the similarities are startling. Humans and monkeys both have opposable thumbs. Both use tools. Both clap and laugh hysterically when someone hands them a toy, like a stuffed animal or a Wii. They both throw their own waste (again, my brother). And they both were in the 1996 film Dunston Checks In (starring Jason Alexander and Sam the Orangutan, but I can't remember which one played the monkey).
Strict evolutionists will proclaim from the windows of their hybrid cars that God is inexplicable and contradictory. Zealous creationists will scream Monday through Saturday that the fossil record has too many gaping holes.
Mark Twain, in his book Huckleberry Finn, sets Huck and his friend Jim on the banks of the Mississippi, looking up at the stars. They are innocently discussing the fabric of life, and who or what made this and that. Huckleberry, in his impish wisdom, says the following. "We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss whether they was made or only just happened." (Chapter 19, paragraph 5). Well, why can't the answer be both? Why can't things have been made to just happen?
Some members of our church will say that the theory of evolution attempts to explain God's ways for him, but it seems to me that harshly dismissing the theory does the same thing. Would it take a miracle for something like evolution to be true? Yes.
But aren't miracles something that we believe in?