Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Creation vs. Taxonomy, Relevance of biological classification —ElGuapo

Just sharing a random thought here. If one does not believe in the common descent of living things, if we instead believe God independently created each creature, then scientific classification is kind of meaningless, isn't it? I mean, we speak of mammoths and elephants as being closely related, but if each was brought to earth separately, that "relationship" is nothing more than coincidental.

I'm thinking here of statements from some early church leaders. B. H. Roberts said that each life form was

QUOTE (from The Gospel and Man's Relationship to Deity)
brought from some other and older sphere, with power to propagate their kind. [Eventually] the changed conditions of the earth became unfavorable to them [and] they became extinct and were replaced by other species of a higher type.

Similarly, Joseph Smith in the History of the Church talks about "beasts which had lived on another planet and not ours" (HC 5:324), "strange beasts of which we have no conception" (HC 5:343).

Parley P. Pratt likewise seemed to believe these creatures were brought from another sphere:

QUOTE (from The Key to Theology)
When lo! from yonder world is transferred every species of animal life. Male and female, they come, with blessings on their heads.

The same kind of ideas pertain to the plant kingdom. (There's that taxonomy creeping in again.) Brigham Young said that Adam

QUOTE (from JD 1:50)
arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth.

Of course, however you believe each species has arrived at where it is today, classification is still useful as a descriptive tool. But for those who believe in a literal creation of independent species as referenced above, do you still think of different species as being somehow related? Are tigers and lions and bears and fishes all equally related in your view?

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