Today is the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. The "father of evolution" and the main figure of the great debate that stems from that idea. To most people religion and evolution do not mix. So it may come as a surprise to some of you that this week BYU has been celebrating Darwin in grand style. There is at least one lecture a day from campus and visiting professors and after tonight's lecture (which topic is "The time and seasons of Joseph Smith, Abraham Lincoln, and Charles Darwin") there will be a birthday party complete with cake.
Personally, the theory of evolution does not shake my testimony of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation. My religious beliefs do not interfere with my understanding of evolution and biological principles. If that was the case I wouldn't have spent four months in Argentina (where Darwin also spent several months) learning about how lizards changed and formed new species as their environment changed.
I was grew up on a sheep farm where we raised black and white sheep. We wanted to get lambs that were certain colors so weavers would want our wool. Each time we would select certain colors of sheep to breed because we wanted certain colors of lambs, we were taking a part in selection. In nature, selection like this also takes place. Generations of selection results in animals that look very different than their ancestors. This is evolution. This is how new species are made.
My dad always taught me that God worked through natural laws; that he made those laws. So what is wrong with believing that God could have made the mountains that forced the flowers to adapt, to evolve, in order to survive? When I am hiking through an alpine meadow I awe at the beauty that God put there, and I awe at the harmonious and ordered way in which he could have done it.
I am currently reading a great book called "Finding Darwin's God." It ends with the last paragraph in Darwin's "On the Origin of Species."
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."