BYU Studies Call for Papers on Special Evolution Issue

We are delighted to invite you to contribute to a BYU Studies Quarterly special issue on the thoughtful integration of evolution and faith. BYU Studies publishes scholarship within a restored gospel of Jesus Christ context. Submissions are invited from all scholars who seek truth “by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), discern the harmony between revelation and research, value both academic and spiritual inquiry, and recognize that knowledge without charity is nothing (1 Cor. 13:2).

In this special issue we seek to faithfully explore issues related to biological evolution and Latter-day Saint belief and practice. We are soliciting articles on any issues related to this topic, including but not limited to: interpretations and contexts of Genesis (including Moses and Abraham), 2 Nephi 2:22, Doctrine & Covenants 77:6–7, 101:32-34, and related passages; hermeneutical and exegetical history; Latter-day Saint intellectual history within American contexts (e.g., the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy); historical, contextual, and intellectual factors influencing Latter-day Saint interpretations of scripture and interpretive assumptions; religious and scientific epistemologies; the historical Adam and Eve; the nature of science; misconceptions about evolution (e.g., “the Second Law of Thermodynamics disproves evolution”); approaches to evolutionary pedagogy; how evidence of evolution does not necessarily threaten a gospel perspective; and methods for reconciliation.

We are issuing an open call for abstract submissions. If you have an idea for a manuscript that you believe would fit into this special issue, please email an abstract (1,000 words or fewer) to by February 1, 2020. Abstracts will be reviewed by the editorial team for fit, focus, and appropriateness for this special issue. Ideal proposals will be constructive, nondogmatic, within the author’s expertise, and accessible to a nonspecialist undergraduate audience. (A synthesis of existing knowledge and literature rather than the production of new, technical knowledge is preferred.) Invitations for full submissions will be distributed March 1, 2020, and final submissions (approx. 5,000 words) will be due on May 15, 2020. All submissions will be peer reviewed, after which the editorial team will make final selections for the special issue, which has an estimated publication date of January 2021. Submissions not selected for this issue may have an opportunity to be published on the BYU Studies website or in another issue of BYU Studies Quarterly.

Please direct questions about this solicitation to any of the co-editors of this special issue. Sincerely,

The Editorial Team
Steven Harper, BYU Studies,
Jamie Jensen, Department of Biology, BYU,
Benjamin Spackman, PhD Student, Claremont,
Steven L. Peck, Department of Biology,
Ugo A. Perego, Visiting Scientist, University of Pavia (Italy),

UPDATE 10/28/2019 — the submission email has been corrected to


  1. Looking forward to the final product. I hope it’s accessible enough to appeal to and educate the average LDS member. There’s too much fear out there about evolution, which leads to ignorance or worse.

  2. Also note my clarifying post here! We want scientific articles, yes, but also history, scripture, theology!

  3. iterum nata says:

    1. “Others have deduced that, because of certain similarities between different forms of life, there has been a natural selection of the species, or organic evolution from one form to another. Many of these people have concluded that the universe began as a “big bang” that eventually resulted in the creation of our planet and life upon it.

    To me, such theories are unbelievable! Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary? It is unthinkable! Even if it could be argued to be within a remote realm of possibility, such a dictionary could certainly not heal its own torn pages or renew its own worn corners or reproduce its own subsequent editions!

    We are children of God, created by him and formed in his image.”

    Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Magnificence of Man,” Ensign, January 1988.

    2. “The Church has no official position on the theory of evolution. Organic evolution, or changes to species’ inherited traits over time, is a matter for scientific study. Nothing has been revealed concerning evolution.”

    3. “[E]ven a four-year-old knows that a chick will not be a dog, nor a horse, nor even a turkey. It will be a chicken. It will follow the pattern of its parentage. She knew that without having had a course in genetics, without a lesson or a lecture.

    A bird will not become an animal nor a fish. A mammal will not beget reptiles, nor “do men gather figs of thistles.” (Matt. 7:16.)

    In the countless billions of opportunities in the reproduction of living things, one kind does not beget another. If a species ever does cross, the offspring cannot reproduce.

    This is demonstrated in so many obvious ways, even an ordinary mind should understand it. Surely no one with reverence for God could believe that His children evolved from slime or from reptiles.”

    Elder Boyd K. Packer, “The Pattern of Our Parentage,” General Conference, October 1984.

    4. “One of the leading doctrines of the Church resembles the spirit of the law of universal growth so nearly that one is forced to believe that the great truth embodied by this doctrine [eternal progression] is the truth shadowed forth by the law of evolution….. Joseph Smith taught [with regard to humans] a doctrine of evolution which in grandeur and in extent surpasses the wildest speculations of scientific evolutionists.”

    Apostle John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith as Scientist

  4. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    That Packer quote absolutely pegs the Dunning-Krueger meter

  5. Here come the trolls!

  6. iterum nata says:

    Care to elaborate how accurately quoting prophets, seers and revelators is “trolling?”

  7. Ron Hilton says:

    The submission email address given above bounced. What is the correct address?

  8. Oh idk I guess if I were to go onto an LDS Momma Dragons blog and accurately rattle off quotes about homosexuality being evil, and a personal choice.

  9. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    1. Having the title of “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” (as an Apostle) in no way prevented Ezra Taft Benson from making factually incorrect and defamatory statements on the regular in the ’60s and ’70s; why would it make Boyd K. Packer’s stunningly factually ignorant statement (he apparently was unaware of mutations and genetic drift) any more accurate?

    2. Just as an FYI, the Church’s Gospel Topics essay on the issue of Middle Eastern ancestry among Mesoamericans (or, rather, the lack thereof)–like all Gospel Topics essays, it has been run through the Correlation Committee–relies heavily on lessons from molecular genetics that are also the underpinnings of contemporary evolutionary biology.

    3. Anyone who thinks that anatomically modern humans haven’t undergone evolution clearly isn’t a lactose intolerant individual living in a society of milk drinkers and ice cream eaters. (On the other hand, it’s the ev-psych crowd, the Dawkins-ites, who are telling each other Just-So stories and calling it “science.”)

  10. Troy Daniel Cline says:

    With all due respect to Russell Nelson as a human being – I suspect he knows very little (as do most people) about evolutionary biology. His ignorance is most apparent with that “explosion in a printing shop” comment. That’s not an uncommon argument from creationists and ID folks. It makes absolutely no sense and displays a lack of knowledge of the natural and life sciences. Now, it is perfectly fine if Nelson and company want to have those views, but to stand up at the pulpit or pen an article in the Ensign as a leader of the church bears the weight of authority when, frankly, they do not have the authority to speak on those topics.

  11. I’m looking into the email address. It may just not be properly configured at BYU yet.

  12. I’ve had wonderful personal experiences with Church leaders on a spiritual plane that I wouldn’t trade for anything, but at the same time I don’t expect them to be experts in science.

  13. Ann Porter says:


  14. iterum nata says:

    “Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

    Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects. We haven’t yet had a prophet who earned a doctorate in any subject, but as someone said, “A prophet may not have his Ph.D. but he certainly has his LDS.” We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you’ll be blessed and time will vindicate you.”

    Ezra Taft Benson Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Living Prophet Feb 26, 1980 BYU Devotional

  15. Ron Hilton says:

    Evolution as in the ability of organisms to adapt to their environment through genetic mutation across multiple generations is an observable scientific fact. But it is big leap from there to the origin of life. Even a single cell or DNA molecule is an extraordinarily complex machine. Is there a scientific theory for abiogenesis, meaning the spontaneous origin of life from inorganic matter? No, just a few vague ideas and a general supposition that it must be some undiscovered form of evolution, because there is no other scientific explanation. In other words, a secular faith that a non-theistic explanation must exist.

  16. “If there is ever a conflict . . . stand with the prophet” is certainly the way they talk.
    “time will vindicate you” is not my experience.

  17. iterum nata says:

    A worldview that that requires non overlapping magisteria, does not understand the true and living God, for he is God of truth (John 14:6). Nothing true will ever contradict His character, for He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). He is so powerful that He is before all things and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). He literally sustains the world by his Word and with the breadth of his hand marks off the heavens (Isaiah 40:12). Science, properly understood, is using our rational faculties to begin to unravel the mystery of God’s handiwork.

  18. Wondering says:

    ETB gave his speech, The Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, at BYU’s Marriott Center on February 26, 1980. President Kimball was “concerned about Elder Benson’s February 1980 talk at BYU” and wanted “to protect the Church against being misunderstood as espousing . . . an unthinking ‘follow the leader’ mentality.”[i]
    President Kimball required Elder Benson to explain himself to a combined meeting of all general authorities the following week. Additionally, President Kimball asked Elder Benson to apologize to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but they “were dissatisfied with his response.”[ii]
    [i] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, (Signature Books: Salt Lake City, UT, 1997), 111.
    [ii] Ibid, see endnotes 352-353 on page 469 for references.

    I wish President Kimball had spoken publicly to the church members about the problems in that talk. Perhaps if he had it would not be repeated appreciatively by so many. The failure to do so is reminiscent of President McKay’s not speaking publicly of his disapproval of BRM’s “Mormon Doctrine” and the review of it by apostles assigned to do so. Folk doctrine and opinion grow into acceptance at least when not publicly contradicted by senior church authority. I have not looked to see whether ETB repeated that stuff after he became president of the church. He certainly reigned himself in on his ultra-right wing conspiracy theories. Maybe he did on that also. I wonder.

  19. John Taber says:

    Around 1999, Elder Packer gave a Conference talk where he clarified “just a theory”. He basically said that he just didn’t consider evolutionary theory to be the final answer.

  20. NB: We sent out the wrong email address! The correct address is, apparently,

  21. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Nobody tell iterum nata about Brigham Young’s, uh…imaginative understanding of Asian geography, lest he be shaken to his core.

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