Mormon Humorist Writing about Evolution

The following is from a column by Robert Kirby in the SLTrib (18 Aug 2012):

While evolution is generally regarded by the deeply religious as the primary province of scientists/atheists, I’ve alway taken great spiritual comfort in it.

I love the echoes of time found in rocks and museums.  There is something about the evidence of a billion years of life at work.

There’s cosmic beauty in the millennial march of creatures that keep their place in a rising order.  They lived and died, taking only what they needed and surrendering everything to those yet to come.

Then–zap!–along came human beings, creatures who eat more than they need, waste more than they should and exploit virtually everything.

Right out of seeming nowhere comes an animal capable of thinking it know more than it really does.  It simultaneously creates great works of art and soulless slums.  It eradicates disease, then murders the surivivors in genocidal rampages.  It invents church.

But as always there is another side to the issue.  According to Wesley J. Wildman writing in Dialogue,  “Christian and other theists  who causally assert that God creates through evolution–as if there is no theological problem with this assertion–should pause and consider Darwin’s faith journey.”

For Darwin, God created through the evolutionary process, but his growing knowledge of that process dramatically transformed his view of God.  God became less personal, less attentive, and less involved in day-to-day affairs.  God becaume less of a micromanager and more of a hands-off creator.  I personally have no problem with God not being a micromanager.

Wildman asserts that with evolution that God also becomes less benevolent.   The argument goes that a caring God would not have created in a way that involves:

  • trial and error/false starts
  • species extinctions, and
  • the seemingly pointless cruelties of natural selection.

I not sure I understand this argument; don’t we have these things in the world today, evolution or no evolution?  It seems like Wildman is arguing against a benevolent God period, and that is another issue.  And arguably Darwin never lost his faith in God.

But getting back to Kirby, it’s fascinating that the best theologian and observer of Mormonism (and religion in general) is employed as a humorist for the local newspaper.  Robert Kirby’s Saturday columns are frequently more insightful than a months worth of correlated Sunday School lessons or 100 blog posts.

Kirby in the same column tries to explain why he is the way he is (argumentative, cynical, hyper-observant, theologically gifted, and funny all at the same time):

It’s my brain.  It tries to think both sides of an issue at the same time.  It’s a noisy process that generates a lot of internal discussion about the nature of God and the cosmos and the meaning of life.

The LDS Church needs more Robert Kirbys.

This entry was posted in Creation, Environment, mormonism, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mormon Humorist Writing about Evolution

  1. Blake says:

    I see this is a couple months old, but I just came across this after some Googling. Wildman touches on an issue I’ve been curious about for a while.

    I’m haven’t seen Wildman’s writing beyond what you summarized, but if he’s thinking on the same wavelength as me, his point is not simply saying that evolution involves the things you listed; rather, it *requires* them. The theological problem is that death and all the suffering that comes along with it was required if God used evolution to create humans. That seems to imply either that God is not all-powerful, since if he was he could have created using a method that requires less suffering (e.g., something like the literal interpretation of Genesis); or that God is not benevolent. If he was both all-powerful and benevolent, why would he choose a method of creation that necessitates suffering over a method that does not?

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