Call for Papers: BYU Studies Quarterly Special Issue on Evolution

BYU Studies Quarterly will soon publish a special issue “on the thoughtful integration of evolution and faith.”

From the call for papers:

In this special issue we seek to faithfully explore issues related to biological evolution and Latter-day Saint belief and practice. We are soliciting articles on any issues related to this topic, including but not limited to: interpretations and contexts of Genesis (including Moses and Abraham), 2 Nephi 2:22, Doctrine & Covenants 77:6–7, 101:32-34, and related passages; hermeneutical and exegetical history; Latter-day Saint intellectual history within American contexts (e.g., the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy); historical, contextual, and intellectual factors influencing Latter-day Saint interpretations of scripture and interpretive assumptions; religious and scientific epistemologies; the historical Adam and Eve; the nature of science; misconceptions about evolution (e.g., “the Second Law of Thermodynamics disproves evolution”); approaches to evolutionary pedagogy; how evidence of evolution does not necessarily threaten a gospel perspective; and methods for reconciliation.

Link to the call for papers:  evolution-CFP

Update: please use this email: [email protected]


Also: Ben Spackman’s dissertation involves evolution and creationism in the Church Education System after 1970. If you attended BYU, Seminary, or Institute during the 70s, 80s, or 90s, and have experiences, journals, or documents relating to it, please drop him a note (his email is in the call for papers doc).

5 comments for “Call for Papers: BYU Studies Quarterly Special Issue on Evolution

  1. Why do you keep promoting the theory of evolution? Multiple first presidencies have published “The Origin Of Man,” which is an official statement declaring that man did NOT evolve from lower life forms. BYU should be leading the way in studying creation science, but instead you are allowing the evangelical Christians to do all the work that you should be doing. Evolution has no solid evidence to support it, yet creationism has massive enormous evidence to back it up. The Grand Canyon, the fossil record, the Cambrian explosion to name a few. These things scream global flood, not millions of years. Please get your act together and start researching real earth science and stop promoting and teaching your students to believe in the false and foolish theories of men.

  2. Justin,

    It’s probably worth reading the wealth of articles, treatises, and other documents from Latter-day Saints, including from the Church officially, that have been made on this since 1909. It’s also worth looking at why The Origin of Man does and does not say. In fact, there’s a paragraph in there that has served as the basis for some thought and debate that I find quite interesting:

    “True it is that the body of man enters upon its career as a tiny germ embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is, and the child, after being born, develops into a man. There is nothing in this, however, to indicate that the original man, the first of our race, began life as anything less than a man, or less than the human germ or embryo that becomes a man.”

    If Adam and Eve began their lives as an embryo, there’s a lot of room for interpretation that includes biological evolution. The earthly host of such an embryo could have been something other than human, but a sufficient mutation could have rendered Adam and Eve human. You run into a bit of a sorites paradox with that interpretation, but the point is that it’s simplistic to say that the Church ever spoke authoritatively on the precise question of evolution by proclaiming the literal truth of Adam and Eve and the divine origin of man.

  3. Justin,

    As Dsc indicated, you might consider later statements on evolution as well, such as the 1925 First Presidency statement that was an updated version of the Origin and Destiny of Man and significantly softened portions that could be considered anti-evolution (

    Speaking as someone whose professional field is in biological engineering, there is an enormous amounts of evidence in support of evolution, particularly at the level of DNA analysis. That is the reason why it is so widely accepted in the scientific community–because it is the best way of understanding the data we have gathered. Are there areas that we don’t know as much about or some things that we are still trying to understand? Yes. But from what we do know, evolution makes the most sense right now.

    As far as BYU and promoting evolution goes, it is an academic institution. Right now, there isn’t strong enough evidence to support creationism from a biology standpoint, so they teach and study an evolutionary standpoint in the science department. There have been a lot of controversies over it in the past at BYU, but currently the Church is following the policy laid out by the First Presidency in the late 1920s and early 1930s, to: “Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.”

    Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t difficulties with evolution from the standpoint of Church doctrine, particularly when it comes to the ancestry of humankind and the existence of Adam himself. That’s why Church leaders that have been career-Church people like President Joseph Fielding Smith and President Boyd K. Packer held anti-evolution views. But I also think that’s a big reason for why BYU Studies is calling for analysis on those types of issues in the journal–they’re dealing with a theology that makes believing in evolution complicated on one side and science that makes not believing evolution difficult on the other.

  4. ALL biological research today is underpinned by evolutionary science. Evolution per se is alive & kicking (ha ha) as microbiologists know only too well.

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