Parshall Proposal: LDS Gospel Topic Essays on Science

Somewhat hidden in the comments on keepapitchinin.org is an important suggestion by Ardis E. Parshall:  that LDS Church leaders provide a set of gospel topic essays on science and Mormonism.  Parshall’s OP was in reaction to some bogus “science” presentations at a recent FIRM Foundation conference at Utah Valley University:

Ardis E. Parshall

The Church generally tries to avoid open controversy in matters (of science and religion), responding to questions with general statements about the realm of the Church and the realm of human endeavor, although occasionally, for whatever reason, the Church does, gently, diplomatically, in sometimes unnoticed ways, nudge us away from fundamentalism: The Sunday School manual’s Creation lesson now openly states that the “days” of Genesis need not be understood as the 24-hour period of our familiarity.  Organic evolution is studied at BYU calmly and rationally, although I hear, anecdotally, that it still provokes cases of the vapors in some students or their parents.

If the Church did feel it was within their province to directly address some of these issues with, say, a set of gospel topics essays on science to complement those on history, it could quash, or provide the authoritative right to quash, some of the false ideas that anti-science Mormons waste so much time and effort and money on studying and promoting.  They wouldn’t need to make any positive statements about things that haven’t been revealed or are beyond the scope of the gospel, but they could point to a few issues — like the use of “day” in the Creation account — and state that the gospel does not require us to believe anything that is not true, or does not require us to believe in a named list of fundamentalist assumptions about science. That they have not, and may never, issue such statements (and I don’t necessarily fault them for that — such essays would be enormously helpful and reassuring, but are not, after all, essential to the mission of the Church) is certainly an identifiable factor in Mormonism that allows superstition and false ideas to be promoted by organizations like Firm Foundation.

Gospel topic essays on science sounds like a great idea.  And I hope at some level, the leadership of the LDS Church considers the suggestion.

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