by Shirley R. Heater
“I no longer believe in God … I’ve decided I am an atheist.” It may not surprise you that young people today are taking this stand when you see the deteriorating conditions in the world around us. But what may surprise you is that these words are not only being spoken by young people with various Christian backgrounds, but also by members of the Church!
Why Are They Leaving? Why? Why! why… It is not an easy answer—or rather, it is not an answer that is easy
to listen to. But I’m going to give it a try. A recent survey of young people ages 20-29, specifically identified as from conservative Christian homes (having grown up attending church, Sunday school, camps, praying with their families, reading the Bible, etc.), revealed that 90% no longer attend. The majority said they didn’t get answers they needed and were more likely to accept abortion, gay rights, evolution, do your own thing, question authority, even the word of God and God Himself!
I can look back in my own lifetime and see many seemingly “small” or isolated changes that have accumulated until today we have a full- blown war against God and His Word. I remember when in 1954 “under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance. I also remember when prayer was removed from schools (1963) and Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. For decades, a concerted effort has been in play to undermine the word of God, culminating in the chaos and contention seen in the world today. It has spilled over into government (“separation of church and state”), education devoid of anything spiritual (only Santa is welcome at Christmas), removing “In God We Trust” from newly minted coins, and the fight to have “under God” removed from the pledge! (And, sadly, these are only a few examples.)
How has this happened? Part of the answer was celebrated in 2009 by spotlighting two significant events—the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of his landmark work Origin of Species (1859). When Darwin left on his five-year sea journey in 1831, he was a Bible-believing creationist. But he carried with him another book, Principles of Geology published in 1830 by Charles Lyell, proposing the doctrine of uniformitarianism which states that the present is the key to the past. By 1859 Darwin was an atheist and full- blown evolutionist.
Did you catch the date of Lyell’s book? 1830! — the same year The Book of Mormon was published. Second Nephi 1:81 [1:9 LDS] tells us there is opposition in all things—that is certainly true when it comes to God
and the Scriptures today! And just prior to the coming forth of The Book of Mormon, the foundations for questioning the Bible were laid down by questioning the origin of Genesis and Moses as the writer.
Darwin’s and Lyell’s false doctrines spread insidiously throughout the last century-plus, its tentacles infiltrating not only world and government views, but also science, education and text books, meaning of life, marriage, standards, and yes, even Bible-believing (and Book of Mormon believing) churches. In attempts to mold Biblical creation with evolution, compromise interpretations such as theistic evolution or evolutionary creation were adopted. While these views seemed to satisfy some religionists, it has been a slippery slope toward the
ultimate goal of evolution—a total rejection of the Bible and God Himself!
And some "Christian" churches have unwittingly contributed by not treating the foundational principles seriously. Take the flood of Noah, for instance. Was it worldwide or just local as many now believe? Evolution presents the geologic column as evidence of eons of gradual change, with man appearing near the top or most recent “age.” But the geologic column does not appear intact anywhere in the world, and in fact, some layers (“ages”) are missing, or are out of order with later millions of years appearing before earlier millions of
years. The geologic column is actually evidence of a worldwide, catastrophic flood! And let’s not forget Noah’s ark—we see cute little boats with Noah and a few animals with giraffes sticking their heads above the top, when the real ark was huge and perfectly proportioned to stay afloat—proportions still used today by the largest ships!
By embracing or molding these false doctrines, the result is a loss of confidence in the Word of God, then a denial of His existence and His role in the history of mankind, and society rushing toward moral collapse. When the foundation crumbles, we are left without a Creator, there was no Fall and thus no need for a Savior, no judgment (the Flood), no miraculous virgin birth, crucifixion or resurrection! When you let go of the rod of iron, you are without a sure foundation. What we believe is foundational to how we interpret and understand
everything. We must “be ready always to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15).
Understanding what has happened to the Bible will help us understand the role of The Book of Mormon. My position—as with archaeology and The Book of Mormon—is that the Scriptures are TRUE! They are either a true history—or they are not! The attack on the word of God—the Bible—has been blatant, and The Book of Mormon has not been spared. And while the Christian world as a whole is fighting against The Book of Mormon, it is the very answer they need! The Book of Mormon joined together as a second witness with the Bible strengthens the testimony of those foundations (e.g., Creation, Fall and need for a Savior, Flood, Crucifixion and Resurrection) and according to the words of Lehi, the two “shall grow together unto the confounding of false doctrines” (2 Nephi 1:19-24 [1:9-11 LDS])!
Some LDS Doctrine on Lyell and Darwin's Basic Ideas
by David H. Swingler,
Archaeologist, LDS Scholar,
Host of the 75th Anniversary James E. Talmage "The Earth and Man" Symposium
at Thanksgiving Point, Utah
Author of the LDS novel "WWW.Urim and Thummim.God" sold out at Deseret Book
Author of the yet-unpublished MS "The DNA of Elohim"
Shirley R. Heater has brought up an important topic - with a serious statistic - that more and more youth in the world - even LDS youth - are leaving all Faiths, becoming atheists, and "no longer believe in God."
Truly this is a serious issue. Shirley R. Heater's article merits a reply.
I am a convert of 44 years - baptized when I was 18 years old after praying and receiving a most powerful witness of the Holy Ghost the Joseph Smith was a Prophet, the Book of Mormon is true and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the True, Restored Church. I was the only member baptized in my family. I served a 27-month mission in Brazil; I have served in many callings and capacities, including 4 long stints as Gospel Doctrine Instructor. At my present age of 62 years my testimony is stronger than when first received that glorious night on my knees, and, my testimony is additionally strengthened by 44 years of hands-on experiences in archaeology, in foreign lands, and reading several thousand books on ancient cultures, ancient religions, artifacts, mythologies, and Church Doctrine.
My testimony has also been immensely increased by reading over 200 science books, and by numerous travels to Utah to sit and talk with BYU professors in both the Ancient Scripture Department, and the Sciences Department.
This later odessy - over 15 trips to Utah to personally sit with BYU professors asking questions and listening to their astute, testimony-filled answers - began in 1995 when I contemplated writing a book about the history of the Creation of our planet since Genesis 1:1.
I called a professor I knew at BYU and asked what does BYU teach in its science classes about the AGE OF THE EARTH and about the INTRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF LIFE on our planet?
The BYU professor I called replied succinctly that BYU science classes teach the Earth is about 4.65 Billion years old; that Life has been on this planet for a little over 3.8 Billion years - starting with single-cell organisms and continuing in single-cell / multi-cell micro-organism Life for about 3 Billion years before larger Life Forms began to appear.
He then quickly and succinctly rehearsed for me the rise of Life on our planet as observed in fossils.
He also pointed out that Utah is one of the richest fossil regions of the world, and, that BYU's collection of fossils was one of the largest in the world, literally by tonnage.
This information inspired me on a 3-year quest to learn what our LDS professors teach our LDS youth at BYU, and, to understand scientifically the spiritual story I wished to write in my LDS novel "WWW. URIM AND THUMMIM .GOD."
By the end of this 3 years my reading had encompassed over 100 science texts - many of them actual university class texts - and my novel was completed.
It was published and sold in Deseret Book Stores from 2005 through 2009. It is currently sold out; it can be obtained on Amazon and Ebay.
I give my background as a foundation of solid LDS Testimony and doctrinal study, because what I must say in rebuttal to Shirley R. Heater's article should be understood from the standpoint of sound LDS doctrine, unshakable Testimony in God and the LDS Church and its doctrines, and, a Testimony also of what Elder James E. Talmage called "the record in the rocks for man to decipher."
Elder James E. Talmage was not only one of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles; he was the author of Jesus the Christ and Articles of Faith, two of the few books Missionaries are allowed to read during their 2-year missions.
He also was a Ph.D. in Geology, as was also Apostle Elder John Widstoe - writer of ALL missionary pamphlets for over 40 years.
On August 9, 1931 - in the Tabernacle on Temple Square - Elder Talmage gave a crucial key-note discourse entitled "The Earth and man." This talk was published as a pamphlet by The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints in 1931. It is quite rare; I only have a photocopy. The photocopy I have is from the Church Archives, with a handwritten note at the top of the cover written by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr.
In his discourse, Elder Talmage said, among many things: "The Creator has made a record in the rocks for us to decipher; and in the indestructible record of the rocks tey read the story of advancing life from the simple to the more complex.... from the marine algae to the advanced types of flowering plant... from the single-celled protozoan to the highest animals."
The beloved prophet David O. MacKay, speaking at a BYU event on October 30, 1956 said in his public address to students and faculty: "And now I have just time to comment on the opportunity of BYU to teach these fundamental truths... Whatever the subject may be, the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be elaborated upon without fear of anyone's objecting, and the teacher can be free to express his honest conviction regarding it, whether that subject be geology, the history of the world, the millions of years that it took to prepare the physical world, whether it be in engineering, literature, art - any principle of the gospel may be briefly or extensively touched upon for the anchoring of the student who is seeking to know the truth."
Another great LDS doctrician, an Apostle who eventually become Prophet, Hugh B. Brown, speaking at BYU on March 25, 1958 said "It should be observed that God is the author of two accounts of the creation, one written in the Bible and amplified by modern revelation and the other in the strata of the earth."
Another dearly loved LDS scholar so educated and trusted he was requested by the General Authorities to reply, in the Church's Ensign Magazine in Sept. 1987 - Br. Morris S. Peterson (a Stake President and Professor of Geology at BYU) - to the question "Do we know how the Earth's history as indicated from fossils fits with the earth's history as the scriptures present it?" wrote the following answer, approved by the First Presidency and published in the Sept. 1987 Ensign: "Among the life forms God created were apparently many species now extinct. Fossil-bearing rocks are common on earth, and these fossils represent once-living organisms, preserved now as part of the earth's crust. .... From the fossil record we learn that the dinosaurs were the dominant animals on earth between 225 and 67 million years ago. The existence of these animals is indisputable, for their remains have been found in rocks all over the earth. What eternal purpose they played in the creation and early history of the earth is unknown. The scriptures so not address the question and it is not the realm of science to explore the issue of why they were here. We can conclude, as Elder Talmage said, that... "They lived and died, age after age, while the Earth was yet unfit for human habitation" (quoted from "The Earth and Man," J.E. Talmage August 9, 1931.)"
The full quote from Elder Talmage's August 9, 1931 discourse reads: "The earth passed through ages of preparation, to us unmeasurable and immeasurable, during which countless generations of plants and animals existed in great variety and profusion and gave in part the very substance of their bodies to help form certain strata which are still existent as such. The oldest, that is to say the earliest rocks, thus far identified in land masses reveal the fossilized remains of once living organisms, plant and animal... The whole series of chalk deposits and many of our limestones contain the skeletal remains of animals. These lived and died, age after age, while the earth was yet unfit for human habitation."
One of the most important statements by the First Presidency on these issues was declared during Spring Conference in 1930, recorded in James E. Talmage's own handwriting in his personal diary: "The decision reached by the First Presidency, and announced to this morning's assembly, was in answer to a specific question that: Obviously the doctrine of the existence of races of human beings upon the earth prior to the Fall of Adam was not a doctrine of the Church; and, further, that the conception embodied in the belief of many to the effect that there were no such Pre-Adamite races, and that there was no death upon the Earth prior to Adam's fall is likewise declared to be no doctrine of the Church." (italics added for emphasis)
I now come full circle to Shirley R. Heater's article:
It is articles and casual LDS chit-chat of the kind presented in Shirley R. Heater's article that confuses, undermines and teaches false concepts to our youth, heavily contributing to rampant loss of Testimony and Faith.
Lyell's geological discoveries - published in 1930 - are true.
That they came forth as true testimony of the real age of the Earth and its recorded testimony of God's creation of Life - in 1930, the same year as the Book of Mormon - is NOT the work of Satan, but is by the hand of the Lord.
In the scriptures it declares that "in the mouth of two or more witnesses" shall all truth be established - an important LDS scripture.
Elder James E. Talmage declared, in the Tabernacle in Salt lake City on August 9, 1931 "What a fascinating story is inscribed upon the stony pages of the earth's crust!"
Apostles James E. Talmagem, Elder John Widstoe and other General Authorities have born witness to the Truth to be found in Geology - the study of the strata.
The negative comments about Lyell made in Shirley R. Heater's article are not LDS thinking nor LDS doctrine, but come from Protestant anti-Darwin books and literature - AND THEY ARE FALSE.
Regarding Darwin: Yes, he was an admitted atheist; yes, his "Theory of Evolution" as published had many specific but minor errors in it; yes, reading ANYONE's opinion that "there is no God" with their opinion of what led them to conclude this is faith-shattering to those with weak faith.
THIS IS THE LDS PROBLEM: WE FAIL OUR YOUTH AS WE FAIL TO SUPPLANT SUCH STATEMENTS WITH STATEMENTS OF FACT AND TRUTH TO THE CONTRARY.
The steps of the rise of life as identified by Darwin follow the simple steps outlined in Genesis about the rise of life.
In this Darwin must be right, as he agrees with genesis, step by step.
The steps of the rise of life as identified by Darwin follow the simple, true steps testified of by Elder Talmage in his August 9, 1931 Tabernacle discourse "The Earth and Man" - and we know Elder Talmage spoke the Truth.
We cannot continue to fail our youth by denying EVERYTHING Darwin wrote just because he was an atheist, and we do not like his final conclusion that LIFE evolved without any God or help from any God, and that Man evolved without any assistance from a Creator God.
The scriptures teach us that: "in nothing doth man offend God... save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments." D&C 59:21
Either we declare our testimony of "the stony pages of the earth's crust" and bear witnes
s of God's hand in all things - or we offend the Creator God.
Either we declare our testimony of the scriptures - "God is the author of two accounts of the creation, one written in the Bible and amplified by modern revelation and the other in the strata of the earth" - or we offend the Creator God.
One of the Creator's commandments is "search ye the scriptures" and if we want to save our yo
uth, shall we not obey this commandment, and live?
Elder Hugh B. Brown told us: "God is the author of two accounts of the creation, one written in the Bible and amplified by modern revelation and the other in the strata of the earth."
We cannot be saved in ignorance, not can we save our you as long as we remain in ignorance of the things which are taking away their Faith.
As our youth are taught - at BYU and other LDS educational institutions, by wonderful LDS teachers with strong, strong testimonies - about geology, about the true, 4.65 billion-year old age of our planet, our Earth; about the 4-Billion-year rise of Life upon this planet which is recorded in the strata for us to study, a second witness of the hand of God in all things - must we not keep up with this learning and KNOW as Latter-day Saints the truth of these things, that we might keep our youth by answering their inquiries with Truth and Light, rather than false protestant-origin excuses for a lack of Faith?
There are many important citations in The Book of Mormon regarding our responsibility to work now while it is the day, while there is time; to not procrastinate our repentance nor to persist in slothfulness; and to teach our youth the truthfulness of the doctrine of God.
If we know from the statements of the First Presidency recorded in the diary of Elder James E. Talmage that IT IS NO DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH that prior to the Fall of Adam there was no death on this earth outside the Garden, nor that there were no Pre-Adamite races - human or animal - outside the Garden prior to the Fall of Adam - how can we teach these clearly false teachings to our youth as LDS doctrine and then complain that they are losing the Faith, and leaving the Church?
We must first seek to know the truth, before we imagine to teach.
The manuscript "The DNA of Elohim" which I completed several years ago as a non-fiction sequel to the fictional novel 'WWW. URIM AND THUMMIM .GOD" presents dozens of quotations from outstanding general Authorities on the actual ancient age of the Earth, its slow, Testimonies of its gradual build-up of deposits and of the unimpeachable value as scripture of the Creator God's record of the Rise of Life found in the strata, the stony pages of the earth's crust.
As latter-day Saints we are counseled to seek out the best books. Brigham Young declared that ALL sciences and ALL truth belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.
The day is drawing to its close, the eleventh hour is nigh upon the world as we see more and more in the news.
We as Latter-day Saints need to study and learn the meaning of God's second Holy Record in the rocks of His Earth, and, discover what Testimony indeed we need to give to our youth that they may know - YES! the earth gradually was prepared over billions of years; YES! life gradually rose from the microscopic to the more complex to the highly complex to the great fishes to the great animals, high and low; YES! there are fossils of Pre-Adamite humanoids who came on the earth as part of the Plan to prepare it for the final coming of The Sons and Daughters of God in the Spirit, to be born as Man, even Adam and Eve; YES! the entire process was long, gradual, slow, amazing and YES! it was assisted through the veil by Deity and Helpers of Deity.
YES! there is a God.
NO! everything here is not here all by accident.
The Book of Mormon is True.
Jesus is the Christ.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the True, Restored Church with all the Keys and Ordinances of Salvation.
Lyell and yes, even Darwin were inspired to learn, know and in their yet early, imperfect perceptions, share eternal Truths which we have the responsibility to study, and sift out the wheat from among the chaff.
David H. Swingler