The media has been abuzz with the reports of a 47-million-year-old monkey-like fossil that researchers say could revolutionize the understanding of human evolution. In fact, The New York Times recently reported that the find “is the first stop in a coordinated, branded media event, orchestrated by the scientists and the History Channel, including a film detailing the secretive two-year study of the fossil, a book release, an exclusive arrangement with ABC News and an elaborate Web site. This is a response.
Joseph Smith’s revelations on matter and intelligence give important insights into whether or not life evolved from dead physical matter.
Origins of Life
This year commemorates the 200 th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, whose theory of the origins and progress of life is considered by many to be proved, irrefutable and universally accepted. A key part of modern variations of this theory is that life is believed to have its origin in the world’s oceans as amino acids were randomly created and these dead chemicals somehow became alive. 1
Joseph Smith taught that matter consists of physical and spiritual elements that have existed eternally. He also taught that there also is something called intelligence , which is able to act for itself in controlling matter and also exists eternally.
The Prophet Joseph Smith.
“It is by no means improbable that some future textbook .will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet.”-Josiah Quincy 2
Famed Naturalist Charles Darwin.
“His work on how life forms evolve by natural selection will provide the organizing paradigm for biology and, increasingly, all of modern science. . [This year has been] a media storm to celebrate the 200th birthday of one of the giants of scientific endeavor” 3
Picture of visible view of ultraviolet and infrared pictures of the “Pinwheel” spiral galaxy, designated M33 or NGC 598 in the constellation Triangulum. This galaxy is about 3 million light years away and contains about 50 billion stars. It is smaller than the Andromeda galaxy or our own Milky Way galaxy in our local group of 30 galaxies. 4Ultraviolet and infrared light, invisible to the human eye, shows more detail in this galaxy which has large regions of star formation. In the scriptures light is associated with both spirit and intelligence. Studying the various wavelengths of light has been a major key to development of the theories upon which modern astronomy and physics are based. 5
Scriptural References to Matter and Intelligence
“There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; (D&C 131:7)
“Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.” (D&C 93:29-30)
“… if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.” (Abraham 3:18)
“The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words light and truth.” (D&C 93:36)
“I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.” (Daniel 5:14)
“For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” (D&C 84:45-46)
Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. . Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space- The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things. (D&C 88:7, 12-13)
Joseph Smith’s Teachings
Joseph Smith’s teachings on spiritual and physical matter are part of the restoration of the knowledge that God organized the universe and life from preexistent elements.
“Learned men . say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. And they infer, from the word create that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create . does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos -chaotic matter, which is element. Element had an existence from the time He had. . [these elements] may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end. The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are coequal (co-eternal) with our Father in heaven. 6
“As early as 1831, Joseph Smith introduced a startling doctrine: that both intelligence and matter (energy) are eternal, having always existed, and are destined to endure forever. ‘For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy. And when separated, man cannot receive a fullness of joy.’ (D&C 93:33-34) This doctrine is unique in a world where the prevailing view has been that the spirit of man had a beginning and where the view that God created the elements is still taught.” 7
” This composite image shows the galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56, also known as the “bullet cluster.” This cluster was formed after the collision of two large clusters of galaxies, the most energetic event known in the universe since the Big Bang. . Most of the matter in the clusters (blue) is clearly separate from the normal matter (pink), giving direct evidence that nearly all of the matter in the clusters is dark [matter].” 8 Astronomers also are distinguishing between different kinds of matter in the universe.
The gravitational behavior of galaxies leads astronomers to believe that 80% of the matter in the universe may be this difficult to detect “dark matter.” 9
Charles Darwin and his Followers’ Views on the Origin of Life
Even though many of Darwin ‘s followers emphasized a spontaneous generation of life via purely non-intelligent processes and “were anxious to banish from science all supernatural explanations for the origin of life,” Charles Darwin himself may have not believed the same. In the On the Origin of Species , he says: ” I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed by the Creator .” [emphasis mine]
This quote is assumed by many of Darwin ‘s followers as a bone thrown by Darwin to liberal Christians to placate them and that by doing so Darwin was “misrepresenting his own views on life’s origin.” The last phrase “into which life was first breathed by the Creator” was removed altogether in the third edition, after the phrase “by the Creator” had been added in the second edition.
In 1870, Darwin ‘s most dedicated proponent, Thomas Huxley, spoke in a widely published address ” Acknowledging that Darwinian science implied a naturalistic origin of life, Huxley posited that living organisms had arisen on the primitive Earth in a series of stages from nonliving matter. This concept he labeled ‘abiogenesis’ ..Judging by his private correspondence, Darwin seems largely to have concurred with Huxley’s version of a naturalistic origin of life.” 10
Life has always existed!
If spirit and intelligence, however they are constituted, are already alive, what need is there for amino acids to come together and become alive in the primeval lightning storms as many textbooks proclaim? The doctrine of eternally existent physical and spiritual matter is a great key of knowledge that Joseph Smith proclaimed in contrast against those religions that believed in an ex nilo or “out of nothing” creation. 11
Traditional Catholic or Protestant Christians require a miracle or many of them to make life out of nothing. Darwin ‘s disciples require at least one randomly generated materialistic “miracle” to create life from dead elements. But Joseph Smith’s restored Christianity requires neither. Life is eternal and not made alive by God or the “laws of physics” working on purely physical matter.
This doctrine is not just an interesting peripheral issue but is a key portion of the restoration of the Gospel by the Prophet Joseph Smith exemplified in the “King Follett” discourse in 1844. The doctrine of eternal existence of matter and intelligence explains why God created the world and specifically man as currently exists, with the possibility for us to have imperfections, sorrows, disease, pain and ultimately death. God made us in this state rather than creating all things from nothing to a perfect exalted state. What God has done has prepared a way for us, as eternally existent intelligences, to progress toward perfection in the same manner that it has always been done. God would cease to be God if he denied eternal truths of progression including experiencing our current second estate of testing. 12
If we believe in Joseph Smith as the prophet who restored the lost true doctrines of the always existing intelligence and matter, spiritual and physical, then I believe we must reject any requirement that dead physical matter would ever need to become alive to start the miraculous journey of life. If we accept Joseph Smith as a true prophet, seer and revelator, there is no need to create life because it has always existed. In fact, Joseph Smith’s teachings flatly contradict the notion that life evolved from dead physical matter. For, as Joseph Smith taught, there has always been physical matter, spiritual matter and intelligence, for they are eternal. 13
“The . most common hypothesis in the scientific community, is that life began approximately 3.5 billion years ago as the result of a complex sequence of chemical reactions that took place spontaneously in Earth’s atmosphere. In the 1950’s, two biochemists [biochemists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey] conducted an experiment which showed that certain molecules of life (amino acids) could form spontaneously when the conditions of Earth’s early atmosphere were recreated in the lab. It is assumed that over time, these molecules interacted with one another eventually leading to the earliest forms of life.”
“Weeks before his death, the Prophet Joseph was visited by Josiah Quincy, soon to become mayor of Boston, Massachusetts. Years later, in his book Figures of the Past, Quincy judged Joseph Smith to be a force of surprising significance:” –from documentary script.
Film Credits and Summary: Directed by Lee Groberg, narrated by Gregory Peck, written by Heidi S. Swinton.
“Millions of people around the world know of him. Yet this frontier prophet of the early 1800s found little honor and eventual martyrdom at the hands of an angry mob in his own country. Who was this Joseph Smith and what was it about his remarkable life story, which inspired such impassioned rancor or unflinching reverence? Please join Academy Award-winner Gregory Peck for a fascinating look at this oft-misunderstood American legend.”
Picture from Wikipedia commons area: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:
“1809: Charles Darwin is born. His work on how life forms evolve by natural selection will provide the organizing paradigm for biology and, increasingly, all of modern science. But you know that. And Wired.com has been there, covered that. So, while others work up a media storm to celebrate the 200th birthday of one of the giants of scientific endeavor, we’ll take you on a quiet little tour of our coverage that you may have missed or may want to revisit.”
Robert, Butler, “Happy Birthday Darwin,” More Intelligent Life , 2009. https://www.moreintelligentlife.com/story/darwin-anniversary
“The father of modern evolutionary history turns 200 today. Robert Butler offers a natural selection of the honours and tributes now flowing his way, and sheds light on the fittest… Special to MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE.
“A few years ago, a BBC TV series, “Great Britons”, encouraged the British public to vote for the number-one Brit of all time. Winston Churchill beat out the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and Lady Di, Princess of Wales, came in third place. It was a blow for supporters of Charles Darwin, who came fourth. Any sense of injustice will have been soothed by the tributes flowing Darwin ‘s way on the 200th anniversary of his birth. (Born on February 12th 1809, he shares his birthday with Abraham Lincoln.) The outpouring of Darwin exhibitions and Darwin books, Darwin television and Darwin radio programmes, Darwin talks and Darwin memorabilia [is remarkable].”
Picture from Wikipedia commons illustrations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Charles_Darwin_seated.jpg
“Galaxies are not uniformly distributed in space, but tend to be concentrated in groups and clusters. In some clusters, the density of galaxies is so much higher and the combined gravitational pull so deep that membership is easy to determine. Groups are looser associations, and so are harder to define cleanly.
“‘What is the criterion for inclusion in the Local Group? Proximity is the cleanest and often used to the exclusion of any other.
If we grant membership to all galaxies within 4 million light-years, we have a club with 30 members, three of which barely got in. We can also use velocities to find out if the last three are on their way in or out. That is, we can accept all the fellow travelers. If we do this, the three squeakers become full members and we are pressed to include a few more distant objects such as Leo A and Pegasus, both small irregular galaxies.’ .The motions of all the Local Group galaxies are strongly influenced by the combined gravity of M31 and our Milky Way Galaxy, the two dominant members.”
Richard Powell, “The Universe within 5 million Light Years The Local Group of Galaxies,” Atlas of the Universe, https://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/localgr.html. “This web page is designed to give everyone an idea of what our universe actually looks like. . Shown below are four of the galaxies in the Local Group. The Triangulum galaxy (left) is a spiral galaxy and the third largest galaxy in the local group, it contains 50 billion stars. NGC 147 (top centre) is a dwarf elliptical galaxy and IC 10 (top right) is a dwarf irregular galaxy, they both contain tens of millions of stars. NGC 3109 (bottom right) is another dwarf irregular galaxy of several hundred million stars and it is also the largest member of a small sub-group of galaxies within the Local Group.”
“In these side-by-side images of M33, the ultraviolet image on the left was taken by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer, while the ultraviolet and infrared image on the right is a blend of the mission’s M33 image and another taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. M33, one of our closest galactic neighbors, is about 2.9 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum, part of what’s known as our Local Group of galaxies.”
“The mind of man is as immortal as God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their friends and relatives are separated from their bodies for only a short season; their spirits existed coequal with God, and they now exist in a place where they converse together, the same as we do on the earth. Is it logic to say that a spirit is immortal and yet has a beginning? Because if a spirit has a beginning, it will have an end. That is good logic. I want to reason further on the spirit of man, for I am dwelling on the spirit and body of man–on the subject of the dead. I take my ring from my finger and liken it unto the mind of man, the immortal spirit, because it has no beginning. Suppose I cut it in two; as the Lord lives, because it has a beginning, it would have an end. All the fools and learned and wise men from the beginning of creation who say that man had a beginning prove that he must have an end. If that were so, the doctrine of annihilation would be true. But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house tops that God never did have power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself. Intelligence exists upon a self-existent principle; it is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. Moreover, all the spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible to enlargement. “
” The blue areas in this image show where astronomers find most of the mass in the clusters. The concentration of mass is determined using the effect of so-called gravitational lensing, where light from the distant objects is distorted by intervening matter. Most of the matter in the clusters (blue) is clearly separate from the normal matter (pink), giving direct evidence that nearly all of the matter in the clusters is dark.
“The hot gas in each cluster was slowed by a drag force, similar to air resistance, during the collision. In contrast, the dark matter is not slowed by the impact because it does not interact directly with itself or the gas except through gravity. Therefore, during the collision the dark matter clumps from the two clusters moved ahead of the hot gas, producing the separation of the dark and normal matter seen in the image. If hot gas was the most massive component in the clusters, as proposed by alternative theories of gravity, such an effect would not be seen. Instead, this result shows that dark matter is required.”
“The Milky Way contains about 100 billion stars. Yes, that’s 100,000,000,000 stars! On still larger scales, individual galaxies are concentrated into groups, or what astronomers call clusters of galaxies. The cluster includes the galaxies and any material which is in the space between the galaxies. The force, or glue, that holds the cluster together is gravity — the mutual attraction of everything in the Universe for everything else. The space between galaxies in clusters is filled with a hot gas. In fact, the gas is so hot (tens of millions of degrees!) that it shines in X-rays instead of visible light. In the image above, the hot X-ray gas (shown in pink) lying between the galaxies is superimposed on an an optical picture of the cluster of galaxies. By studying the distribution and temperature of the hot gas we can measure how much it is being squeezed by the force of gravity from all the material in the cluster. This allows scientists to determine how much total material (matter) there is in that part of space. Remarkably, it turns out there is five times more material in clusters of galaxies than we would expect from the galaxies and hot gas we can see. Most of the stuff in clusters of galaxies is invisible and, since these are the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity, scientists then conclude that most of the matter in the entire Universe is invisible. This invisible stuff is called ‘dark matter’.”
10Nancy Ellen Roth, review of James Strick, “Darwin and the Origin of Life: A historical perspective,”American Association for the Advancement of Science: Origin of Life Workshop, Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion February 21-23, 2003. https://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/02_Events/Workshops/
“Strick suggested that discussions of the origin of life are ‘theologically charged’ to this day. He cited the work of the science historian and philosopher Iris Fry, who in The Emergence of Life on Earth (Rutgers University Press, 2002) traced the wide variations in Christian theology regarding the origin of life over the centuries. Even by 1997 the Pope had not fully accepted a materialistic theory of evolution, Strick noted. But apart from religious implications of the discussion, Strick emphasized, an examination of the broader historical context offers other important information about trends in how scientists in the past 150 years have defined life and thought about its origin.”
For revisions of the “into which life was first breathed by the Creator” phrase see also: “The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online,”.
https://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=side&itemID=F373&pageseq=502 (first edition), page 484 in text.
“Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed.”
https://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=image&itemID=F376&pageseq=502 (second edition), page 484 in text.
“Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed by the Creator.
https://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F381&viewtype=text&pageseq=1; (third edition) page 519 in text.
“Therefore, on the principle of natural selection with divergence of character, it does not seem incredible that, from some such low and intermediate form, both animals and plants may have been developed; and, if we admit this, we must admit that all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth may have descended from some one primordial form.”
“‘The universe could so easily have remained lifeless and simple -just physics and chemistry, just the scattered dust of the cosmic explosion that gave birth to time and space. The fact that it did not -the fact that life evolved out of literally nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing -is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice. And even that is not the end of the matter. Not only did evolution happen: It eventually led to beings capable of comprehending the process by which they comprehend it.’ Richard Dawkins -famed Oxford evolutionary biologist reflecting on the sheer wonder of the emergence of life on Earth and the evolutionary process in his classic [book].”
RPM: It is interesting to see examples of scientists like the evolution proponent Richard Dawkins proclaiming life evolving “out of nothing” rather than from the process of organizing matter/energy, which cannot be created or destroyed.
“Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. . But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. . What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.”
(1) If you could hie to Kolob In the twinkling of an eye,
(2) Or see the grand beginning, Where space did not extend?
(3) The works of God continue, And worlds and lives abound;
(4) There is no end to virtue; There is no end to might;
(5) There is no end to glory; There is no end to love;