5/10/2005

The Evolution of Spirituality

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I am now planning on commenting on Elder Packer's "The Law and the Life". This post is not intended to have much anything to do with what Elder Packer says in that talk, so I hope you will forgive the digression. In this post a plan to propose a mechanism by which God might have guided the evolution of man. I did not think to even suggest any new mechanisms for some weeks or even months to come but this one seems appropriate now for two reasons: 1) it is a fair example of what I meant in my previous post when I suggested that we not only account for evolution, but embrace it. 2) I've never heard anybody suggest this before so it kind of excited me a bit.

While I still plan on posting a bit on Adam and Essentialism in the near future, I must briefly mention that this idea follows quite naturally from the ideas already presented regarding spirit birth. If we are really to embrace the gradualism inherent in evolution we should not hold out for an all-or-nothing kind of spirit birth. While we can consider Adam to have been the first "full" spirit child of God, those who lived with him, their descendants as well as all of their relatively recent ancestors should not be regarded as mere animals.

They to were spirit children of God to one extent or another. The further back we trace the lineage, the less child-like and more pet-like they become if we are to consider animal spirits to be spirit-pets of God. This, I would suggest, is not due to God creating them as man's inferior for him to do whatever he wants with them. I would suggest that the spirits of animals are also intelligences, though far less intelligent than us. Remember, in the Book of Abraham, intelligences are always more or less intelligent than others, all the way up to Christ and all the way down to..... what? I suggest hominids and then other animals. I shall treat this subject in more detail in the essentialism post.

Now if we are to grant that our humanoid ancestors were at least partial spirit children of God, what is to keep them from being inspired to a certain degree? This, I would suggest as a faith claim, is why religion has its beginning long before we have anybody that could be considered an Adam. An individual would be able to receive inspiration in direct proportion, I assume, to how 'intelligent' they are in the spiritual sense. This doesn't seem too controversial yet.

Now let's see what this can give us. First of all, I would suggest that our capacity to feel the spirit has at least something to do with our biological makeup. This would mean that our capacity to be inspired would have had to evolve, just like every other biological trait we possess. How could this have been done?

Most people would suggest that God gave us "something" be causing a mutation somehow. I'm not sure this is necessary. Suppose God inspires individuals so as to protect them from harm and danger and that this has been the case pretty much forever. Now, within relatively recent times (with the last couple million years I suggest) animals finally arose which actually had the intelligence to recogize, even barely, the promptings which God would send.

Thus, those which were able to receive inspiration, to any extent whatsoever, would be able to avoid danger, if only slightly better than those that did not. This slight advantage is all that is needed for such a receptivity would grow fairly fast of an evolutionary time scale. Thus we can see how we would have evolved the ability to feel and recognize, if only very vaguely, the promptings of inspiration.

One could even suggest that this might also have helped our growing large brains and other such features which separate us from chimpanzees, but I would be very hesitant in holding to that view too strongly.

There is another benefit which this attribute would bestow upon those who began to develop it. Actually, the benefit is not for the animal, but for God, for this new attribute can give God a way to direct evolution to a certain extent. He could not only bestow inspiration in order to preserve individuals from danger (surely the most important part of this process) but He could also use it to lead unwanted mutants into danger so as to end that evolutionary line. This would not have to happen too often so we need not be too worried about such a proposition.

Also God could inspire certain individuals to mate with others in order to direct the gene flow to a certain extent. Again, it must be reemphasized that total control is not necessary or even desirable. Even the slightest push in a direction can have tremendous results.

Now this mechanism would probably only be useful for allowing God to decide what kind of hominids there would be. Other mechanisms must still be suggested if we are to believe that God guided evolution to ensure that there would be hominids at all. This, however, will be much easier than suggesting a mechanism which God would use to bring about homosapiens which is a much smaller target.

Thus, instead of God introducing the mutations as a form of guiding mutation we can also look to the other elements of (non)direction for clues as to how God might have guided evolution. What is unique about this mechanism is how subtle it is. We don't have to believe that God sent asteroids. We don't have to suggest that angels in lab coats came down to genetically engineer somebody. Instead, it was done in a way in which we already know that God works.

Summary: A possible suggestion for how God partially directed evolution is that God directed such through plain old inspiration. This gives not only God a way of directing the gene flow, but also may account for other human traits such as our ability to recognize inspiration.

5 Comments:

This post is acting funny in Firefox.

Also, I am new to this debate and haven't done all the reading, so feel free to tell me when and where you have already dealt with my comments.

I don't have a problem with this per se, but is the implication that God has been saving up really well developed intelligences for the arrival of homo sapiens? Do we need to do temple work for homo erectus?

5/10/2005 01:33:00 PM  

Yes, we are better developed intelligences than were homo erectus and for this reason we are sons and daughters of God in a more full sense than he was. Was homo erectus intelligent enough to accept the gospel in any form? If not then no we don't need to. If so, then we should to that degree, but honestly will we ever find their names and dates of birth? Did they even have names or dates? I doubt it. 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/10/2005 01:45:00 PM  

You might be able to draw some support for your idea from Parley Pratt. There is that quote from him that states that the light of Christ constitutes instinct in animals.

Now there are some implications to that statement that we would probably not accept. And since we don't really know what the light of Christ is, we can't say how it might interact with animals. But it does lend some support to the idea of God influencing animal behavior. 

Posted by Jared

5/10/2005 01:54:00 PM  

So, was Adam the first "spiritually-evolved" homo sapiens sapiens (er, did I get the name right)?

If this is covered elsewhere, feel free to just direct me elsewhere and I will ask my silly questions there. 

Posted by John C.

5/10/2005 02:23:00 PM  

John,
I would recommend perusing the notebooks we have posted in the links above. There are listed all of our posts according to title with brief summaries. You should be able to find most any information you want since we have already covered quite a bit.

Here  is mine. In it you will see a number of posts 2/3 down the page that deal with Adam. If you don't really feel like reading all of those, this post is a good summary.

 

Posted by Jeffrey Giliam

5/10/2005 02:40:00 PM  

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