Kieth Merrill, the 71-year-old native of Farmington, who made his name as a screenwriter, director, and film producer, has unfortunately turned from the silver screen to writing novels. His publisher, Shadow Mountain, an imprint of Deseret Book, is apparently happy that he is making the transition. I’m less so.
Ben Fulton recently conducted an interview with the Academy Award winner (SLTrib, 13 May 2011):
What interested you the most about the story of an artist (Thomas Hall) with “competing” commissions, for a science museum (an homage to) Charles Darwin and (for a hospital) a mural of Christ?
It was a way for me to visualize in a single character the collision between science and religion and science and evolution and divine creation. It isn’t a conflict for me, but it’s a huge conflict for other people. I accept evolution within species, but I do not accept evolution as an explanation for the origins of mankind. The conflict is really between divine creation and the purist view of evolution, which is that man evolved from a lower order. I think it’s a fundamental conflict all of us struggle with. Science is very confident in trying to explain all things, but science falls short by its own admissions. The book explains both sides of those issues.
Do you believe, then, that God created each species individually, after which they then evolved to varying degrees?
I do, but not in simplistic terms. To talk about cats and dogs and cows is simplistic. “Species” is a scientific word. When you talk about divine creation, there’s no question in my mind that God created all things and they then evolved after their “kind,” which is a word from Scriptures. I don’t know the answers, but I believe God created all things. . . . The fun for me has been to take my journey and inculcate it in the journey of Thomas Hall.
Merrill’s journey into pseudo-science shouldn’t have the imprint of the LDS Church, even though it’s a novel. Mormonism can only lose from Merrill’s type of syncretism. These efforts are futile and frequently silly, as was the case with the book: Man, His Origin and Destiny.
There is no conflict between organic evolution and LDS doctrine as long as members aren’t literalists when it comes to Genesis.