We hold ourselves to be higher than monkeys (and by monkeys I mean the great apes, their relatives and ancestors). To address anyone ready to condemn us of being speciests, there are reasons for this bias, we allegedly have a few things that monkeys don't (a 1-2% difference in DNA!? for starters), large frontal lobes, language, culture, 5th order intentionality, maybe even morality (all these are somewhat debatable I suppose except for our brain size). On a purely superficial level we look and on occasion behave very differently from these creatures. As theists or humanists we seem to have inclinations, prima facie or otherwise, that humans have a unique position in the universe.
Thanks to the The Enlightenment we officially live in the age of reason. One consequence, is that we follow the evidence where ever it takes us and in this case, our ancestral trail leads back to the plains of Africa and a lady nick-named Lucy. Science tells us that we came from the apes, this is the reasonable thing to believe. The bible teaches that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." We take the scripture to mean that God looked like a man then and now and that we bear some resemblence to our spiritual progenitor. It would be blasphemy in most circles to infer that God is or was great ape either during his mortal life or now or that his ancestors were anything less than human(I think it was Xenophanes who said that if horses could draw, their gods would look like horses) . Although we often dismiss judgement of a person on appearance as shallow, we as (orthodox) mormons, have no qualms about zealously safe gaurding the sanctity of the human-god form from any would be iconoclasts. Right or wrong what does this teach us about ourselves? I believe hypocrite is an overused word, it relies too heavily on a strictly black and white world-view, things are often more complicated than that. What we can say for those who believe, and I count myself in this category, that in some ways image does matter. Who would have thought?
To Be Continued...
Next: more monkeys, as far as answers go I'm not making any promises.
- the church's official position on evolution is that it has no position on evolution (see "evolution" entry in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism).
- I don't really see how evolution can be reconciled with Genesis unless we severely restructure our interpretation of scripture to fit every liberal Mormons new favourite line: inspired fiction. I understand that as it is Genesis isn't a how to guide on creating an earth, but some of the conditions found therein are fundamental to our doctrine, like there was no death before Adam. If the fall is a fairy story, what does that say about the atonement, the pillars of eternity don't look so stable when their foundations are merely metaphorical. Personally I prefer a literal interpretation of scripture, mainly because of a spiritual witness I had once. Yet, I also believe evolution has merit. I think I just blew my mind.
**update** actually I just changed my mind, evolution is correct as far as we can tell, the bible isn't.