Prophets or Evolution - An LDS Perspective

 

Chapter 10

 

Why Is There Suffering in the World?

Part 2 of 2

 

 

The Kingdom of God or nothing!

John Taylor's motto, see Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, John Taylor, page 221

 

 

The Football Game

 

In terms of understanding why there is so much evil and suffering on this earth, I doubt there is a better explanation of why God allows these things than was given in a talk by Elder Boyd K. Packer (now President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles) in 1983.  This is from a talk he gave in general conference.  It is worth repeating and reading over and over.  There are a lot of concepts in this quote, so read it carefully:

 

There are so many unanswered questions. Why the inequities in life?

 

Some are so rich.

 

Some so wretchedly poor.

 

Some so beautifully formed, and others with pitiful handicaps.

 

Some are gifted and others retarded.

 

Why the injustice, the untimely death? Why the neglect, the sorrow, the pain?

 

Why divorce, incest, perversion, abuse, and cruelty?

 

If there be order and meaning to life, they are hardly visible in what mortals do to one another and to themselves.

 

In counterpoint, we see love and devotion, sacrifice, faith, and humility; we see humanity in exalted expression of courage and heroism.

 

When at last the mystery of life is unraveled, what will be revealed?

 

I know a man who studied for the ministry. Then just before his ordination he dropped out because there were so many unanswered questions. He still regarded himself as a devout, if somewhat disillusioned, Christian. He found another profession, married, and was raising a family when our missionaries found him.

 

He made a very superficial study of the doctrines of the Church and found them tolerable enough. The fundamentals of Christianity were visible. But he was most interested in programs and activities that would benefit his family.

 

It was after he was baptized that he made the discovery of his life. To his surprise he found, underlying the programs of the Church, a solid foundation of doctrine. He had no idea of the depth and breadth and height of our theology. When once he moved from interest in the programs to a study of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he found answers which explained to his full satisfaction the deep questions that had left him unable to accept ordination as a clergyman.

 

One doctrine was completely new to him. Although he was a student of the Bible, he had not found it there until he read the other revelations. Then the Bible was clear to him and he understood.

 

The doctrine is so logical, so reasonable, and explains so many things, that it is a wonder that the Christian world rejected it. It is so essential a part of the equation of life that, left out, life just cannot add up, it remains a mystery.

 

The doctrine is simply this: life did not begin with mortal birth. We lived in spirit form before we entered mortality. We are spiritually the children of God.

 

This doctrine of premortal life was known to ancient Christians. For nearly five hundred years the doctrine was taught, but it was then rejected as a heresy by a clergy that had slipped into the Dark Ages of apostasy.

 

Once they rejected this doctrine, the doctrine of premortal life, and the doctrine of redemption for the dead, they could never unravel the mystery of life. They became like a man trying to assemble a strand of pearls on a string that was too short. There is no way they can put them all together.

 

Why is it so strange a thought that we lived as spirits before entering mortality? Christian doctrine proclaims the Resurrection, meaning that we will live after mortal death. If we live beyond death, why should it be strange that we lived before birth?

 

The Christian world in general accepts the idea that our condition in the Resurrection will be determined by our actions in this life. Why can they not believe that some circumstances in this life were determined by our actions before coming into mortality?

 

The scriptures teach this doctrine, the doctrine of premortal life. For His own reasons, the Lord provides answers to some questions, with pieces placed here and there throughout the scriptures. We are to find them; we are to earn them. In that way sacred things are hidden from the insincere.

 

Of the many verses revealing this doctrine, I will quote two short phrases from the testimony of John in the ninety-third section of the Doctrine and Covenants. The first, speaking of Christ, says plainly, “He was in the beginning, before the world was.” (D&C 93:7.)

 

And the other, referring to us, says with equal clarity, “Ye were also in the beginning with the Father.” (D&C 93:23.)

 

Essential facts about our premortal life have been revealed. Although they are sketchy, they unravel the mystery of life.

 

When we comprehend the doctrine of premortal life, we know that we are the children of God, that we lived with him in spirit form before entering mortality.

 

We know that this life is a test, that life did not begin with birth, nor will it end with death.

 

Then life begins to make sense, with meaning and purpose even in all of the chaotic mischief that mankind creates for itself.

 

Imagine that you are attending a football game. The teams seem evenly matched. One team has been trained to follow the rules; the other, to do just the opposite. They are committed to cheat and disobey every rule of sportsmanlike conduct.

 

While the game ends in a tie, it is determined that it must continue until one side wins decisively.

 

Soon the field is a quagmire.

 

Players on both sides are being ground into the mud. The cheating of the opposing team turns to brutality.

 

Players are carried off the field. Some have been injured critically; others, it is whispered, fatally. It ceases to be a game and becomes a battle.

 

You become very frustrated and upset. “Why let this go on? Neither team can win. It must be stopped.”

 

Imagine that you confront the sponsor of the game and demand that he stop this useless, futile battle. You say it is senseless and without purpose. Has he no regard at all for the players?

 

He calmly replies that he will not call the game. You are mistaken. There is a great purpose in it. You have not understood.

 

He tells you that this is not a spectator sport—it is for the participants. It is for their sake that he permits the game to continue. Great benefit may come to them because of the challenges they face.

 

He points to players sitting on the bench, suited up, eager to enter the game. “When each one of them has been in, when each has met the day for which he has prepared so long and trained so hard, then, and only then, will I call the game.”

 

Until then, it may not matter which team seems to be ahead. The present score is really not crucial. There are games within games, you know. Whatever is happening to the team, each player will have his day.

 

Those players on the team that keeps the rules will not be eternally disadvantaged by the appearance that their team somehow always seems to be losing.

 

In the field of destiny, no team or player will be eternally disadvantaged because they keep the rules. They may be cornered or misused, even defeated for a time. But individual players on that team, regardless of what appears on the scoreboard, may already be victorious.

 

Each player will have a test sufficient to his needs; how each responds is the test.

 

When the game is finally over, you and they will see purpose in it all, may even express gratitude for having been on the field during the darkest part of the contest.

 

I do not think the Lord is quite so hopeless about what’s going on in the world as we are. He could put a stop to all of it any moment. But He will not! Not until every player has a chance to meet the test for which we were preparing before the world was, before we came into mortality.

 

The same testing in troubled times can have quite opposite effects on individuals. Three verses from the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Christ, teach us that “they had wars, and bloodsheds, and famine, and affliction, for the space of many years.

 

“And there had been murders, and contentions, and dissensions, and all manner of iniquity among the people of Nephi; nevertheless for the righteous’ sake, yea, because of the prayers of the righteous, they were spared.

 

“But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.” (Alma 62:39–41)

 

Surely you know some whose lives have been filled with adversity who have been mellowed and strengthened and refined by it, while others have come away from the same test bitter and blistered and unhappy.

 

There is no way to make sense out of life without a knowledge of the doctrine of premortal life.

 

The idea that mortal birth is the beginning is preposterous. There is no way to explain life if you believe that.

 

The notion that life ends with mortal death is ridiculous. There is no way to face life if you believe that.

 

When we understand the doctrine of premortal life, then things fit together and make sense. We then know that little boys and little girls are not monkeys, nor are their parents, nor were theirs, to the very beginning generation.

 

We are the children of God, created in his image.

 

Our child-parent relationship to God is clear.

 

The purpose for the creation of this earth is clear.

 

The testing that comes in mortality is clear.

 

The need for a redeemer is clear.

 

When we do understand that principle of the gospel, we see a Heavenly Father and a Son; we see an atonement and a redemption.

 

We understand why ordinances and covenants are necessary.

 

We understand the necessity for baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. We understand why we renew that covenant by partaking of the sacrament.

 

I have but touched upon the doctrine of premortal life. We cannot, in these brief conference talks, do more than that. Oh, if we but had a day, or even an hour, to speak of it.

 

I assure you there is, underlying the programs and activities of this church, a depth and breadth and height of doctrine that answers the questions of life.

 

When one knows the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is cause to rejoice. The words joy and rejoice appear through the scriptures repetitively. Latter-day Saints are happy people. When one knows the doctrine, parenthood becomes a sacred obligation, the begetting of life a sacred privilege. Abortion would be unthinkable. No one would think of suicide. And all the frailties and problems of men would fade away.

 

We have cause to rejoice and we do rejoice, even celebrate.

 

“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” (D&C 93:36.)

Boyd K. Packer, “The Mystery of Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 16

 

For the purposes of this chapter, the key concept comes when you go to the sponsor of the game (the Lord) and demand an end to this "useless, futile battle."  The answer: "He tells you that this is not a spectator sport—it is for the participants.  It is for their sake that he permits the game to continue."

 

The score is not important because it is not the teams that are being judged, it is the individuals who are being judged.  Individuals are judged on the basis of which team they join and what they do after they join the team.

 

The vast, vast majority of the suffering on this earth is caused by man's inhumanity to man, meaning by those who do not live the Golden Rule and who will be held accountable by God for their actions.  While it may not appear to be that way on the surface, the fact is that it is true.

 

From an eternal perspective, fighting for the team which keeps the rules, even though some suffering may result, will have the greatest eternal benefits.

 

The above quote by President Packer also states that "great benefit" may come to people because of the challenges faced by others who are suffering.

 

Perhaps one great benefit is the opportunity to help others who are in great need.  Remember the statement above: "In counterpoint, we see love and devotion, sacrifice, faith, and humility; we see humanity in exalted expression of courage and heroism."  Perhaps learning charity is a planned result of man's inhumanity to man.

 

President Packer also said this above: "I do not think the Lord is quite so hopeless about what’s going on in the world as we are. He could put a stop to all of it any moment. But He will not! Not until every player has a chance to meet the test for which we were preparing before the world was, before we came into mortality."

 

 

How Evolution Answers Questions About Suffering

 

How can a person reconcile the words of President Packer, which speak of a premortal life and a postmortal life, with the doctrines of evolution?!

 

If we are nothing but animals, as the evolution establishment is trying to teach us, then we can behave like animals and do not need any type of moral guidelines.

 

We can be on the side of the cheaters, as President Packer described them.  There is nothing to stop us and no reason not to be on the side of the cheaters because there are no ramifications for us as a result of our actions and it is "survival of the fittest" all the way.

 

We can do whatever we want because our existence is nothing but an accident, according to evolution, and we are nothing but animals and most importantly we will cease to exist when we die because we don't have spirits, thus we will not be subject to a Judgment Day or any post-life punishments.  Thus, there are no long term ramifications to our behavior, according to evolutionists.  To evolution, the purpose of life is "survival of the fittest."  If that is true, the tobacco executives were and are the real "winners" in this life.

 

But if we are the children of God, then certainly we would want to be close to the spirit of our Father in Heaven in this life; and we would want to return and live with Him in the next life (with our families); and we would want to become like Him in the eternities (with our families).  This is possible; in fact, many have achieved it and many more will achieve it in the future!!

 

"What are we working for? Wealth? Riches? If we have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we are working for eternal life. Then we are laboring to save our souls. And after saving our own souls we are laboring for the salvation of our children. … I want to say that the best inheritance that you can leave to your sons and daughters is an investment in the kingdom of God."

Heber J. Grant (2004 Priesthood/R.S. Manual - page 204)

 

Many have achieved remarkable testimonies of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  One such person was Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve.  Just a few days before his death he made the following statements:

 

"And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

 

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

 

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

 

God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin."

Bruce R. McConkie, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” Ensign, May 1985, 9

[Note: Elder McConkie died April 19, 1985, 13 days after giving this talk]

 

The incompatibility between the teachings of evolution and the teachings of the LDS religion are huge.  There is a vast, vast difference between the two, both in the short run and the long run.

 

The theory of evolution is myopic, looking at only one small piece of the puzzle, and a bogus piece at that.  The gospel of Christ looks to our existence long before we were born on this small planet and it looks forward into the eternities long after we have finished mortality.  It puts everything in life in a proper perspective.  It answers all of our questions; without taking away our opportunities to choose between good and evil.

 

 

Joy and Happiness

 

But the gospel is much, much more than just doctrine and commandments; it is joy and happiness.  Consider this verse from Isaiah, which is quoted by the prophets in the Book of Mormon:

 

For the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 8:3 [see: Isaiah 51]

 

Look at the words Isaiah uses to describe the future of the righteous: "Zion," "comfort," "Eden," "garden of the Lord," "Joy and gladness," thanksgiving," "voice of melody."

 

Now look at the words above which he uses to describe the wicked: "waste places," wilderness," and "desert."

 

Later in this same chapter is a similar verse:

 

Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 8:11 [see: Isaiah 51]

 

Look at the words Isaiah uses to describe the future of the righteous: "redeemed of the Lord," "come with singing unto Zion," "everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads," "they shall obtain gladness and joy."

 

Now look at the words Isaiah uses to describe the wicked: "sorrow," "mourning."

 

What a vastly different picture Isaiah paints to describe the fate of the righteous compared to the fate of the wicked!!

 

When the Savior Himself was speaking to the righteous Nephites and Lamanites, after his resurrection, he too quoted Isaiah (of course the Savior was the source of all of Isaiah's information!!):

 

  13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

  14 In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee.

Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 22:13-14 [see Isaiah 54]

 

The words Isaiah uses to describe the righteous in the eternal worlds: " And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord," " great shall be the peace of thy children," "In righteousness shalt thou be established," "thou shalt be far from oppression," "[terror] shall not come near thee."

 

Note how Isaiah describes the wicked: "oppression," "fear," "terror."

 

The righteous not only have a future which is free from evil and suffering, but oh what great joy awaits the righteous in the eternities!!!

 

What goes on in this earth life is like the flash of a strobe light.  Eternal joy awaits those who endure this life well and serve on the side of the King of Glory!!

 

  9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

  10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.

Psalms 24:9-10

 

The purpose of this planet is to give each of us an opportunity to decide our eternal fate.  We see the money, power, glory and pleasures of others on the earth; but we also see the opportunities for raising a righteous family, serving others and following the example of the Savior.

 

However, we must be careful.  As Elder Andersen stated, we need to be very careful we do not align ourselves with those with smiling eyes who do not have our eternal best interests at heart.  We cannot hide our actions and thoughts from God.

 

The gospel tells us that we lived before we were born, that our earth was created as a testing ground for our free agency, and that we will live to see (even if in the next life) the ramifications of our choices on this earth.

 

The football game of life began several thousand years ago in the Garden of Eden.  We are now on the field and we are now the participants in the game.  We are no longer among the spectators and planners.

 

We have many choices to make in our lives.

 

President Packer also said this:

 

  Our lives are made up of thousands of everyday choices. Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.

  The crucial test of life, I repeat, does not center in the choice between fame and obscurity, nor between wealth and poverty. The greatest decision of life is between good and evil.

Boyd K. Packer, “The Choice,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 20

 

 

Conclusion

 

The theory of evolution has no answers to why there is so much suffering in the world.

 

In fact, the theory of evolution could motivate a person to seek great power, authority and money so that they can be rich and comfortable.  After all, if "survival of the fittest" is the highest law in the Universe, why not be on the side of the "winners" (as you may suppose).

 

With the theory of evolution there is no sin, no motivation to be charitable to your fellow human beings, and so on.

 

And above all, there is no Judgment Day to the theory of evolution.  It is simply "survival of the fittest" and "live for the moment."

 

Under the doctrine of evolution, the tobacco executives are the heroes and the big winners.  They are role models for budding executives to emulate.

 

Under the doctrine of the laws of God, however, the tobacco executives (who make the key decisions to deceive the public), and many, many others, may end up being the big eternal losers (of course what a person knows and understands will be taken into account by God, as well as many other factors, such as true repentance).

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ explains perfectly why there is evil and suffering on the earth.  What is going on on this planet fits perfectly with the purpose of life and the entire purpose of the creation of this planet.

 

With the theory of evolution, there is no purpose to this planet, just a bunch of accidental mutations and "survival of the fittest."

 

With the doctrines of the gospel, there is a very specific plan and purpose to this earth life and a very well-established set of rules which will determine eternal consequences.